International Space Station – View the Earth from Space

The ISS is now broadcasting live images of the Earth from the Columbus module that is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the International Space Station.

There are a couple of things to note when watching this feed. If the image of the feed is BLACK then the ISS is on the night side of the earth, if it’s a GRAY image, then the cameras are switching (leave it running or check back later) or communications with the space station are unavailable. Please note that there is NO AUDIO on this feed…

The images from this feed are stunning, due the the array of HD cameras that facilitate this viewing. There are a number of commercial grade HD cameras that are enclosed in a climate and pressurized controlled housing that make this possible. The HDEV or High Definition Earth Viewing Experiment started on April 30, 2014 and is expected to run indefinitely. The video feed will be analyzed by engineers and scientists to help plan what types of cameras should be used on future missions!


The live video feed from HDEV will occasionally be unavailable due to loss of Ku-band transmission from the International Space Station. Please check the site again in approximately 30 minutes.
Click here to see where the ISS is on a map.
If you see “WHERE IS THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION?” above the map and the Google map being cropped at the bottom, this is because you have not accepted cookies at the ESA site. To fix, you have the option of going to their site and accepting the cookies, which option appears at the top of their page, and then reloading this page.


HUNCH (High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) was instrumental in this experiment, as student teams collaborated NASA engineers to help design some of the camera’s components. Some of the challenges focused on dealing with the effects of radiation and the harsh environment of space on the HD cameras.

We’ve been having a blast playing with this thing here at MY NASA DATA, try:

  • Making this a dynamic desktop or screen saver
  • Viewing this in Full-Screen mode! (do it now!)
  • Staring at it for hours on end, trying to pick out your hometown
  • Playing some lovely classical music while enjoying a live view of your home planet

For more information about this experiment visit: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/HDEV/

HDEV Facts:

  • While the HDEV collects beautiful images of the Earth from the ISS, the primary purpose of the experiment is an engineering one: monitoring the rate at which HD video camera image quality degrades when exposed to the space environment (mainly from cosmic ray damage) and verify the effectiveness of the design of the HDEV housing for thermal control.
  • The four cameras of the HDEV experiment are oriented in different directions and with different views relative to the ISS travel direction. They are in positioned, 1 looking forward, 1 looking nearly straight down, and 2 looking back. This provides several different viewing angles to the viewer.
  • The cameras are programmed to cycle from one camera to the next, and only one camera can work at a time. As they cycle, each camera must turn off and the next camera turn on before the HD video starts, taking about 8 to 10 seconds to change. Through this cycling, comparable data can be collected on each camera; while also providing, as a bonus, different Earth viewing perspectives.
  • The University of Bonn in partnership with the German Space Agency (DLR) is implementing the “Columbus Eye” program based on the HDEV streaming video. A webpage is in place (http://columbuseye.uni-bonn.de/ in German) that incorporates the HDEV UStream video and describes the Columbus Eye project, which will leverage ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst educational activities in space.

More images in the the ISS Photo Gallery