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Deliberate lack of earth cams? Or policy?

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posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 09:49 PM
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This is just a general question to those on here who know more about the topic than I do.

I had a business idea a few years ago about launching a space-cam on a satellite, effectively piggy-backing on a to-be-launched one, or if funding was in place, a dedicated one.

Basically providing anyone with a real-time space-eye view of earth, and being able to switch viewpoints to outerspace as well.

The technology to be used is quite simple, and not counting the costs of launching/maintaining a satellite, is readily in place and relatively cost-effective from my understanding.

Most would have seen the amateur photos recently of students and whatnot who have launched high-altitude balloons and got outstanding shots of earth using very avaerage equipment. Imagine similar, but a real-time view of earth for anyone, at anytime, on your browser.

Why has this not been done yet? Or has it and I just haven't searched hard enough for it?

I am certain just about every satellite that gets launched these days would have a $50 webcam built in, but why can't the public ever get this view of earth? The technology is basic. Is there a reason that no live, real-time video is offered, and the only view of earth that can be had is pretty much still shots, chosen specifically by various agencies?




posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 10:04 PM
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reply to post by cloudbreak
 
my t.v is broadcast through Dish Network, and they have a channel called Dish Earth, it is just a live feed of earth via satellite, it's cool!








posted on Jun, 4 2010 @ 10:13 PM
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That sounds good, I didn't know about this. I have sat tv...but havent seen this channel on the menu.

Can I ask please, what is the view of earth like...in the sense, can you see the curvature of earth and open space in the background?

Or is it like a google maps view of earth, and you see a certain square viewpoint of land/ocean as the satellite moves over?



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 03:04 AM
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Originally posted by cloudbreak
I am certain just about every satellite that gets launched these days would have a $50 webcam built in, but why can't the public ever get this view of earth? The technology is basic. Is there a reason that no live, real-time video is offered, and the only view of earth that can be had is pretty much still shots, chosen specifically by various agencies?



The problem is, those $50 cameras are fine for PR during launch (there are plenty of examples on YouTube, every shuttle launch has them), but cheap cameras cannot handle the brightness of the earth from space - the contrast is too high for them to cope with, and they white out the image.

You actually need to go up the price ladder a fair amount to get a camera that can handle the brightness.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 03:57 AM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


Yes that may be an issue, but surely there are some very lightweight, compact cams that can handle the contrast. I was just thinking, 30 years ago they beam back fairly good live (or slghtly delayed) TV images from the moon (or a studio depending on your belief), yet there doesn't seem to be anywhere that has live webcams of really cool things in space.

I am sure there are cameras on the mars explorer beaming back live streaming images. Likewise on all those probes they send out into space.

But it seems the general public are blocked from access.

What would be so difficult about getting a high-quality cam on any one of the sattellites? There is one on the space station, but it is 15-second shots. This is what it looks like, and to me is quite ridiculous the supposed view, when there is way better technology available. (The space station itself is obviously layerd on top, just to show its position supposedly, but the view is meant to be live and real).



Maybe there is too much 'traffic' in space, so real-time, live-streaming video is a no go.

NASA does have a cam too on the space station, but again, the field of view is very restricted, and the image quality very very poor.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 04:13 AM
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Originally posted by cloudbreak
reply to post by RichardPrice
 


Yes that may be an issue, but surely there are some very lightweight, compact cams that can handle the contrast. I was just thinking, 30 years ago they beam back fairly good live (or slghtly delayed) TV images from the moon (or a studio depending on your belief), yet there doesn't seem to be anywhere that has live webcams of really cool things in space.

I am sure there are cameras on the mars explorer beaming back live streaming images. Likewise on all those probes they send out into space.

But it seems the general public are blocked from access.

What would be so difficult about getting a high-quality cam on any one of the sattellites? There is one on the space station, but it is 15-second shots. This is what it looks like, and to me is quite ridiculous the supposed view, when there is way better technology available. (The space station itself is obviously layerd on top, just to show its position supposedly, but the view is meant to be live and real).



Maybe there is too much 'traffic' in space, so real-time, live-streaming video is a no go.

NASA does have a cam too on the space station, but again, the field of view is very restricted, and the image quality very very poor.


Apart from the cost of the camera, you are talking about having a permanent downlink set up - which means multiple ground track stations for a non-geosync satellite, which again are costly. Video also takes up quite a bit of bandwidth, which again is expensive when you are talking about satellites, as you have to use very directional antenna to avoid interfering with other satellites communications, and they are expensive.

Thirdly is the cost in terms of electricity to run both the camera and the transmission - no, they don't have to pay an electricity company for power, but there is a budget dictated by how much power the solar panels can collect.

Images from probes are not on general release because they are typically funded in part by universities or foundations, which expect their scientists to have first claim on research. They either pay for the experiments on the probes directly, or pay for time on the instruments, including cameras.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 04:15 AM
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As an aside, in your original post you mentioned two things - one was that you had a business idea to launch a camera, and secondly that you thought the lack of current cams was 'deliberate'.

There are private geophotographic cameras in orbit, and you can buy time on them - but its very expensive.

Why do you think the perceived lack is deliberate?



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 04:45 AM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


Well, because I am reasonably certain that costs could be controlled, and would for certain parties be viable business-wise.

I read some time ago a university had basically put a satellite in orbit on a million dollar budget. However, I don’t think a dedicated satellite for this purpose would be needed.

Streaming video could probably be converted to some sort of efficient frequency, then just picked up by existing groundstations and fed onto the Internet fairly easily. A solar-powered satellite could produce enough power I imagine to power the camera, while whoever owned the satellite would benefit from cost-sharing.

Anyway, it was just an idea and admittedly I am not that technically proficient to iron out all the issues, hence my post. Because I am fairly certain it is not only possible to beam high-quality streaming video , but in the right business-case could actually be cost-efficient and viable, I was trying to look for reasons why this is not being done already.

I thought maybe there is more to it than just cost issues. I had read (now I don’t know how true this is) that the amount of ‘unknown’ spaceships coming and going from earth, as well as in space in general, is staggering. Maybe there is some sort of limits put on space/earth surveillance for this reason. I’m not being conspiratorial, but I did have this thought.

Anyway, thanks for your explanation – I’m not trying to push my point of view as though I am 100% correct, just like to mull over things.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 04:56 AM
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Originally posted by cloudbreak
reply to post by RichardPrice
 


Well, because I am reasonably certain that costs could be controlled, and would for certain parties be viable business-wise.

I read some time ago a university had basically put a satellite in orbit on a million dollar budget. However, I don’t think a dedicated satellite for this purpose would be needed.


You can even get most launch companies to launch your satellite for free, if its small enough, weighs enough and is of a certain shape and size - every launch includes two or three satellites, including the main payload and secondary payloads. If no secondary payloads are available, they send up ballast (because each launch needs to be balanced correctly), and you can have your satellite sent up as ballast, only paying for ground handling costs.



Streaming video could probably be converted to some sort of efficient frequency, then just picked up by existing groundstations and fed onto the Internet fairly easily. A solar-powered satellite could produce enough power I imagine to power the camera, while whoever owned the satellite would benefit from cost-sharing.


The problem is, a continuous feed costs power with regard to transmission costs, permanently takes up a transmission slot and processing capability on the satellite itself.



I thought maybe there is more to it than just cost issues. I had read (now I don’t know how true this is) that the amount of ‘unknown’ spaceships coming and going from earth, as well as in space in general, is staggering. Maybe there is some sort of limits put on space/earth surveillance for this reason. I’m not being conspiratorial, but I did have this thought.


If its UFOs you are hunting for, you would be much better off with a ground based system - radar and optical working in conjunction.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 05:25 AM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


Ok thanks, that makes sense. Maybe in future with a smaller, more compact, high-powered new type of battery - plus small, cost-effective transmission units on the ground, it might be more viable.

I'm not sure if this is being done on a commercial basis yet, but I also thought putting some high-powered webcams on commercial airplanes would be good too (with a view aspect facing down to the ground). I know they have Internet on some flights, so maybe this would be good for some airlines so users could just jump from plane to plane and see what's happening.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 06:18 AM
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Originally posted by cloudbreak
reply to post by RichardPrice
 


I'm not sure if this is being done on a commercial basis yet, but I also thought putting some high-powered webcams on commercial airplanes would be good too (with a view aspect facing down to the ground). I know they have Internet on some flights, so maybe this would be good for some airlines so users could just jump from plane to plane and see what's happening.


Quite a few airplanes have cameras installed in various positions, such as the A380 on the tail facing forward, and just infront of the main landing gear facing backward. You can usually access them from the inflight entertainment system.

I'm still at a loss as to your business case for doing it on a commercial basis however.



posted on Jun, 5 2010 @ 07:26 AM
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Originally posted by RichardPrice

I'm still at a loss as to your business case for doing it on a commercial basis however.


For the spacecam? Just for branding and advertising there would be a case.

For cams on planes, that would just be a novelty or an extra quirk, one where web users could just maybe see something interesting.




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