The search engine has added its latest addition to Street View, and now you can see the International Space Station up close.
Have you ever wanted to tour the International Space Station? Now you can, thanks to Google Street View, which has announced an amazing new addition. It’s the latest in a series of landmarks that you can visit, as Google leaves the actual street to take users other places, like the Great Barrier Reef for example.
Now you can take a panoramic 360-degree view of the space station for yourself. You can gaze at the incredible view of our planet from the ISS cupola, or you can roam around and view the rest of the space station in amazing detail, and get a feel for what it’s like to be on board the ISS.
“The International Space Station is a marvel of modern science and engineering,” Google says on the description of the video, embedded below. “Astronauts have occupied the pressurized modules for over 16 years, and now you can explore their work and living spaces in Google Street View. From the research, to the ‘orbital outhouse’ to the inspirational views back down to Earth from the cupola.”
Google goes on to explain the cupola on the Street View website as follows: “The Cupola (named after the raised observation deck on a railroad caboose) is a small module designed for the observation of operations outside the ISS such as robotic activities, the approach of vehicles, and extravehicular activity (EVA). It was built in Europe by Thales Alenia Space Italy (TAS-I) under contract of the European Space Agency. It provides spectacular views of Earth and celestial objects. The Cupola has six side windows and a direct nadir viewing window, all of which are equipped with shutters to protect them from contamination and collisions with orbital debris or micrometeorites. The Cupola is designed to house the robotic workstation that controls the ISS’s remote manipulator arm. It can accommodate two crewmembers simultaneously and is berthed to the Earth facing side of Node-3 using a Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM).”
Here’s how Google describes its imagery collection process:
First off we need to actually drive around and photograph the locations to show in Street View. We pay close attention to many factors, including the weather and the population density of various areas, to determine when and where we can collect the best possible imagery.
To match each image to its geographic location on the map, we combine signals from sensors on the car that measure GPS, speed and direction. This helps us reconstruct the car’s exact route, and even tilt and realign images as needed.
To avoid gaps in the 360 photos, adjacent cameras take slightly overlapping pictures, and then we ‘stitch’ the photos together into a single 360 degree image. We then apply special image processing algorithms to lessen ‘seams’ and create smooth transitions.
How quickly the car’s three lasers reflect off surfaces tells us how far a building or object is, and enables us to construct 3D models. When you move to an area in the distance, the 3D model determines the best panorama to show you for that location.