Hollywood's cheesy 3-D extravaganzas may soon pale in comparison to getting an immersive view of floating in and around the space station. That's because an astronaut has created the first live-streamed 3-D video in the history of space exploration with a shoebox-size camera.
The live space show featured NASA astronaut Ron Garan, playing with an inflatable Earth globe as he talked about his work aboard the International Space Station on Aug. 6. Viewers wore polarized 3-D movie glasses to watch the live-stream at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in the Netherlands.
But it's not just entertainment; the 3-D experience might even help mission controllers get a better sense of what's going on with space operations.
"The camera could also be used in the future outside the ISS to support the astronauts' spacewalks or other critical robotic operations," said Massimo Sabbatini, a coordinator for the Erasmus Recording Binocular (ERB-2) camera. "This really felt like being in space with an astronaut by your side."
The European Space Agency has played around with similar cameras developed by the Dutch company Cosine BV and Italian company Techno System. One of its astronauts, Paolo Nespoli, already used such a camera to record his life aboard the space station. A second, André Kuipers, is going through training to use the ERB-2 camera during his six-month mission starting in November.
But the Aug. 6 test marked the first live transmission test of the second-generation camera. The first ERB-2 images from that will soon go up on ESA's YouTube 3-D channel.
"If you already have a new generation 3-D-enabled plasma TV at home, you'll be able to immerse yourself in the world of the space station without leaving your sofa," Sabbatini said. "These videos will turn more people into real space fans."
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