Explore the planet from the International Space Station, with UrtheCast


Are you fascinated by space, pictures from the Hubble telescope, or the way the Earth appears from the moon? If so, you will be thrilled to learn that there’s soon to be a way you can get astronaut-type views of the planet, in real-time, online, at no cost!

UrtheCast (pronounced ‘Earth Cast’) offers you a way to explore the Earth without ever leaving the comfort of your home, and to get spectacular space views of Terra Firma without actually going into space! The site is completely free and loaded with information to keep even the most hardcore fact-o-phile engaged and amused.

Currently in a closed Beta stage, UrtheCast is planning to offer, basically, a virtual way to explore the entire planet from your PC or other net-capable device. World events, for example, will be able to be seen from space-borne cameras in real-time which is a major improvement over the massive lag that can occur with things like Google Earth or similar satellite snapshot sites.

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The developers themselves have stated that the experience will feel much like a cross between using Google Earth and YouTube to view everything on the planet, from things like the sprawling urban center traffic to what’s happening at the closest ‘wonder of the world’ like the great Pyramids at Giza or Stonehenge. You’ll have the dynamic function of Google Earth with the video playback capabilities of YouTube, to combine into one great service/app that will integrate across all platforms and locales.

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Mobile app users will be plugged into the system just the same as PC users or even developers of third-party apps, all with access to contribute to the evolution of the UrtheCast system in general and specific site information. This will be useful to teachers and professors, as they will be able to provide exciting and (more importantly) up-to-the-moment accurate visual aides for their lessons and students will be able to benefit on the other end of that spectrum by getting a better ‘view’ of the subject matter they are trying to learn. Researchers will be able to gather data that, until UrtheCast came along, used to require massive hours of tedious ‘footwork’ and will also be able to cut travel budgets since they won’t always have to go to a specific location to get an accurate view of it. And all of this will be in High Definition video, accompanied by appropriate text by some of the world’s foremost authorities on various locations and subjects.

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How is all this possible, you ask? Simple; the folks at UrtheCast are teaming up with other folks (such as space-exploration pioneers like RSC Energia) in the second half of 2013 and they have one common goal. They will launch not one, but two cameras into space and attach them to the International Space Station (which already exists) so that they can provide visual and digital information on the globe below. One of them will be medium resolution, and the other will be full-on high definition, so between the two we will be able to get a good cross section of data on any specific subject on the planet, within reason, of course. This means, ultimately, that the realm of space and atmosphere where the sky goes from blue to black will become much ‘closer’ to us as humans and as explorers than ever before. The best part is that you can make use of the system and participate in it without costing a dime! If you want to get in on the closed Beta to help make it even better, just follow the link below. In the meantime, watch the skies and tell your neighbor that you will soon be able to count the tiles in the bottom of his swimming pool from space, then watch his eyes bug out when you explain how. Until next time, my friends!

  • Get your Urthecast invitation here.