Proving that even the most high-tech manned outposts are still catching up with high definition TV, NASA has just completed an HD upgrade to the International Space Station.
The US space agency is upgrading its internal and external cameras aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to 1080i and 720p formats.
It’s also upgrading the encoding equipment that sends the images to Earth so that they can support up to 1080p Full HD in future.
The Visionary Solutions AVN443 Encoders are the only ones of their kind certified for spaceflight, after passing rigorous tests including radiation testing.
HD camcorders have flown on NASA missions since the late 1990s, but the ISS modules were launched with standard-definition cameras both inside and out.
Visionary Solutions said: “The AVN443 encoder’s flexible, modular architecture can easily adapt to different input resolutions, including 720p, 1080i, and 1080p, providing NASA with a cost-effective and scalable broadcast solution.
“Through a simple upgrade made in the field, NASA can upgrade its encoders easily to 1080p in the future, without having to send the encoder back to Earth.”
Canadian company UrtheCast will install two Earth-facing HD cameras on the exterior of the Russian ISS modules later this year, which can be operated remotely by users on Earth.
The new encoders also use less than 5W of power, have efficient heat dissipation, and are lightweight, making them well suited for deployment in space.
They deliver an HD, full-frame rate, IP video stream via satellite link to NASA, instead of using traditional satellite TV broadcasting formats.