World’s major space agencies have announced stepping up efforts to utilise imagery taken from the International Space Station (ISS) for disaster response.
As a part of the undertaking, new sensors will be installed on the orbital outpost to expand its Earth observation and data collection capabilities.
In the past years, ISS’s astronauts and the stations' scientific instruments have contributed, for example, to data collection campaigns in the aftermath of floods in southern Russia, covering areas damaged by hurricane Sandy in the USA, the earthquake on Haiti or floods in Nigeria and Pakistan.
The space agencies, including NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) or Japanese space agency (JAXA) believe the observations conducted from aboard the ISS could provide valuable complementary information to data gathered by Earth observation satellites operating in the framework of the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’.
The station is already equipped with a plethora of instruments providing detailed images including the hyperspectral imager for the coastal ocean (HICO), the super sensitive high definition TV (SS-HDTV) camera, the multipurpose consolidated experiment (MCE) high definition TV camera (KIBO HDTV-EF), the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV) and the multispectral agricultural camera.
Flying at the altitude of 400km and circling the Earth every 90 minutes, ISS could not only provide a rather unique perspective on the planet but also enable taking images promptly with frequent repeat times. This could help the teams on Earth managing rescue and mitigation operations during floods, wildfires, storms, tsunamis, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.