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Home » News » A virtual journey to space station

A virtual journey to space station

GURGAON: The now-retired International Space Station (ISS) commander Chris Hadfield may have become an overnight internet sensation with his zero-gravity rendering of the David Bowie classic ‘Space Oddity,’ performed more than 400 kilometres above the earth’s surface. But the real unearthly delight lay in Hadfield’s superb series of space photographs, captured over a period of the five months he spent on board the ISS.

From this new perspective, islands looked like jigsaw puzzles that had come apart, and rivers and clouds appeared as brushstrokes on a painting.

Many of us have, and will keep on, getting opportunities to see such astonishing images, but what about the opportunity to capture a part of earth? NASA’s Sally Ride EarthKAM programme, in which hundreds of schools from the world over participate, has been offering just that – a chance to virtually control a DLSR camera mounted on an earth-facing window of the ISS.

A Delhi-based space education group named ‘Antriksh’ brought this programme to the schools of NCR, with a day-long camp organized at Gurgaon’s Gems International School on Wednesday. “EarthKAM is an international educational program of NASA. It allows student participants to select and take stunning, high quality images of Earth from a digital camera mounted on the Destiny lab of the ISS,” said Surjeet Rana of Antriksh.

NASA holds the EarthKAM mission for schools over four times every year. Students who enroll for the programme can pre-order images by marking out the coordinates they want photographed through an internet-based software interface that allows them to look at the ‘upcoming ISS orbits, evaluate terrain, and check the weather conditions,’ before hitting the click button. “Using this software, students get to predetermine the images that the ISS camera captures while orbiting the planet,” said Atish Aman, another Antriksh representative.

The group has held similar workshops for schools in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Chandigarh, and has had around 250 students enrolled with the EarthKAM project this year. “This image collection with accompanying learning guides and activities are extraordinary tools to engage students in earth and space sciences, geography, social studies, mathematics, communications and art,” said Aman.

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