Have you ever wanted to know how the view from a space station would be? Students of HLC International School recently got an opportunity to take pictures of places of their choice through a special camera mounted on an International Space Station (ISS) as a part of the Sally Ride EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students) programme. Students could also leave messages for astronauts on-board the ISS, which will be compiled by SPACE Technology and Education Private Limited, Chennai, the facilitators of the workshop, before being sent to the mission team.
The EarthKAM mission was started by Dr Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space in 1995. The KidSat camera flew on several space shuttle missions before the EarthKam was actually installed in 2001.
Astronomy educator from SPACE, A Prabhakaran explained to City Express that the ISS would make 16 orbits between a sunrise and sunset.
Logging into the EarthKAM website, Prabhkaran points out the red lines across the map of the world which indicates the orbit of the ISS. “The ISS can only capture photos of places which are experiencing day, so the red lines are parts that are experiencing day time while the dark lines have nightfall.”
Each student was given a sheet that had a student login ID and also a unique keyword under which the latitude-longitude of the place they want a photo of, will be stored, along with their message to the astronauts.
Based on the latitude and longitude, they had to choose the right orbit. The ISS, which orbits at a height of about 354 kilometres over the earth, would capture images using a Nikon D2Xs digital camera, when it reaches the requested point. While Saraswathi, a student of HLC International School, was happy taking the first place that the ISS would be orbiting over in the next few hours, another student chose Area 51, a United States Air Force facility in Southern Nevada. “I heard about in Discovery Channel,” he said. For more information on the programme visit www.earthkam.org