Live views of our planet from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) is an addictive thing. For a few weeks now, the High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) project is providing an internet link to one of four cameras that are locked on a view of Earth as the ISS passes overhead. The scientists are checking the cameras for a number of things including functioning in the radioactive low Earth orbit environment. The cameras are "off the shelf," available in stores. One camera points forward, two are looking to the rear (and you'll see part of the ISS) and one is pointing straight down. High school students helped develop the program that runs the cameras, which is pretty cool. Students are involved in continuing operations, too.

The space station orbits our planet about every 90 minutes. That means you'll not have a picture when they cross into "nighttime." But 45 minutes later, the picture is back. On the same page as the live stream, there's a map to see where the ISS is at the present time. And, since this is a research project, there are times when they will take the cameras "off line" to check on things and at other times, the connection is lost, but generally, it's a gentle ride over the planet. We live there. Enjoy the ride at NASA's HDEV site.

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