[Skip to content]
High Definition Earth-Viewing System (HDEV)
The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the ISS was activated April 30, 2014. It is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the Earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence though the different cameras. Between camera switches, a gray and then black color slate will briefly appear. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit here.
Black Image = ISS is on the night side of the Earth. Gray Image = Switching between cameras, or communications with the ISS is not available.

If you see "WHERE IS THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION?" above the real-time ISS tracker map to the left, 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.

Map Source: www.esa.int

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.

For all questions regarding HDEV, please contact the HDEV Principal Investigator, Susan Runco.