A new NASA testbed camera called ISERV aboard the International Space Station (ISS) has snapped 24 images of flooded downtown Calgary in Alberta, Canada. On June 22 and the days following, floodwaters ravaged the "Stampede City," forcing the evacuation of over 100,000 residents of Calgary and nearby towns. The ISERV team sent images of the scene to Canadian officials to help with response and assessment.
In early 2013, astronauts installed the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV) in the Earth-facing window of the space station's Destiny module. From that vantage point, nearly 95 percent of the planet's populated area is visible during the station's orbit, so the window is the perfect perch for taking photos of Earth from space. Researchers on the ground task the high-resolution camera to acquire image data of specific areas of the globe. These images are helping decision-makers address environmental issues, humanitarian crises and disasters – such as the recent floods in Canada.
"I'm happy that this NASA camera can help the space station lend support to countries around the world, making the ISS even more of an international asset," said Dan Irwin, SERVIR project director. "ISERV is proving itself as a testbed that will inform the development of future operational systems."
The ISERV system, based on a modified commercial telescope and driven by custom software, uses its downward viewpoint to obtain near real-time images and transmits the data within hours to scientists and decision-makers on Earth.
ISERV was designed and built as part of the SERVIR project at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Jointly funded by NASA and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), SERVIR provides satellite data and tools to environmental decision-makers around the world.
Regional SERVIR hubs are located at the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama; the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development in Kenya; and the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development in Kathmandu, Nepal. These hubs can task the ISERV system to take images of scenes from Earth's surface for potential use in addressing environmental issues and disasters.
SERVIR is part of the Earth Science Division's Applied Sciences Program in NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Four other NASA field centers work with Marshall on the program: Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
For more information about the International Space Station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station