ESA’s NightPod Automates Space Station Imaging

by Matt Ball on April 5, 2012

The European Space Agency designed and developed, along with  with Dutch company Cosine, a motorized tripod  called NightPod to take nighttime images of the Earth. Prior to this device, the speed of the space station made picture taking difficult due to the speed of the Space Station and the low shutter speeds required to capture light at night. With the device’s tracking capability, it can pinpoint and follow the same place on Earth, compensating and correcting for the motion of the Space Station.

In addition to the tracking capacity, NightPod also offers astronauts the ability to program planned shots based on orbit and attitude, running on its own for up to six hours. Already, the quality of photos far exceeds previous missions, and given the added clarity comparisons of the imagery can start to be made over time. Astronauts are also thinking of turning the camera in the other direction to take observations of space.

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