HICO Image Gallery – Looking beyond the data

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What’s in an image? Beyond the visual impact, beyond the pixels, and beyond the data, there’s valuable information to be had. It just takes the right tools to extract that information.

With that thought in mind, HySpeed Computing created the HICO Image Processing System to make these tools readily available and thereby put image processing capabilities directly in your hands.

The HICO IPS is a prototype web application for on-demand remote sensing image analysis in the cloud. It’s available through your browser, so it doesn’t require any specialized software, and you don’t have to be a remote sensing expert to use the system.

HICO, the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean, operating on the International Space Station from 2009-2014, is the first space-based imaging spectrometer designed specifically to measure the coastal environment. And research shows that substantial amounts of information can be derived from this imagery.

To commemorate the recent launch of the HICO IPS and celebrate the beauty of our coastal environment, we’ve put together a gallery highlighting some of the stunning images acquired by HICO that are available in the system.

We hope you enjoy the images, and encourage you to explore the HICO IPS web application to try out your own remote sensing analysis.

HICO IPS: Chesapeake Bay Chla

To access the HICO Image Processing System: http://hyspeedgeo.com/HICO/

For more information on HICO: http://hico.coas.oregonstate.edu/


Innovations and Innovators in Space – Elon Musk to speak at upcoming ISS R&D Conference 2015

Join us at ISS R&D 2015 – the International Space Station Research & Development Conference taking place in Boston, MA from July 7-9 – to connect with game-changing scientists and other experts who are driving innovation through space research.

This year’s featured keynote speaker is Elon Musk – transformative entrepreneur and space visionary – who will be taking the stage on Tuesday July 7 to share “his thoughts on enabling a new era of innovators through space exploration and the International Space Station.”

Elon Musk Keynote Speaker - ISS R&D 2015

Core topics to be discussed at ISS R&D 2015 include Biology and Medicine, Human Health in Space, Commercialization and Nongovernment Utilization, Materials Development, Plant Science, Remote Sensing/Earth and Space Observation, Energy, STEM Education, and Technology Development and Demonstration.

Are you new to space research? If so, see how space can you elevate your research! There’s a New User Workshop being held on Monday July 6 before the conference begins to introduce interested users to the benefits of conducting research in microgravity and utilizing the ISS for Earth observation.

For more information on the conference: http://www.issconference.org/

We look forward to seeing you there.

Remote Sensing Analysis in the Cloud – Introducing the HICO Image Processing System

HySpeed Computing is pleased to announce release of the HICO Image Processing System – a prototype web application for on-demand remote sensing image analysis in the cloud.

HICO IPS: Chesapeake Bay Chla

What is the HICO Image Processing System?

The HICO IPS is an interactive web-application that allows users to specify image and algorithm selections, dynamically launch analysis routines in the cloud, and then see results displayed directly in the map interface.

The system capabilities are demonstrated using imagery collected by the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO) located on the International Space Station, and example algorithms are included for assessing coastal water quality and other nearshore environmental conditions.

What is needed to run the HICO IPS?

No specialized software is required. You just need an internet connection and a web browser to run the application (we suggest using Google Chrome).

How is this different than online map services?

This is an application-server, not a map-server, so all the results you see are dynamically generated on-demand at your request. It’s remote sensing image analysis in the cloud.

What software was used to create the HICO IPS?

The HICO IPS is a combination of commercial and open-source software; with core image processing performed using the recently released ENVI Services Engine.

What are some of the advantages of this system?

The system can be configured for any number of different remote sensing instruments and applications, thus providing an adaptable framework for rapidly implementing new algorithms and applications, as well as making these applications and their output readily available to the global user community.

Try it out today and let us know what you think: http://hyspeedgeo.com/HICO/


Related posts

Calculating a land/water mask using HICO IPS

Deriving chlorophyll concentration using HICO IPS

Evaluating water optical properties using HICO IPS

Characterizing shallow coastal environments using HICO IPS

High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) – An HD video experiment on the International Space Station

I want to understand our world better. Seeing it from a different angle really helps, and no perspective is more radically different than the one you get when you leave the planet altogether and look back.” – Chris Hadfield, Astronaut

HDEV Earth horizon

What an amazing view it must be for astronauts to gaze down at Earth while in orbit. While there’s certainly nothing like being there in person, and while photos and recorded video provide some indication of the view, now there’s a way to gain your own insight and better experience what the astronauts see while looking out the window.

The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment, which has been active since April 2014, streams live high definition video 24/7 from the International Space Station (ISS) to your computer or mobile device.

HDEV includes four different standard commercial video cameras mounted on the External Payload Facility of the Columbus module on the ISS, one camera facing forward, one pointing straight down, and two facing aft. The objective of the HDEV mission is principally to test the ability and performance of such cameras to operate and survive in the harsh space environment. Results from this experiment will provide an indication of the durability of commercially available cameras for use in future space missions.

But there’s more to this video than just an engineering experiment and an astounding view from space. Such video has both scientific and commercial value with respect to the geospatial information that can be derived from the imagery. In fact, coming soon from technology company Urthecast will be Ultra-HD video from the ISS, with one meter ground resolution, that will be available for viewing and analysis through both free and premium services.

In the meantime, while the HDEV experiment is being conducted, live streaming video from the HDEV cameras is available on Ustream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/iss-hdev-payload

HDEV Ustream video

As an alternative, to simultaneously see the HDEV video in combination with a live map of where the ISS is currently located, visit the HDEV viewing portal at the NASA JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

Also, don’t worry if the video feed is black or not available at first. There’s a periodic lapse in video as HDEV automatically cycles between the different cameras, there’s no video when the ISS is on the night side of the Earth, and sometimes there’s simply a temporary loss of signal.

But the view is worth the wait.

NASA Takes Over Navy Instrument On ISS

A version of this article appears in the May 19 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology, p. 59, Frank Morring, Jr.

HREP on JEMEFA hyperspectral imager on the International Space Station (ISS) that was developed by the U.S. Navy as an experiment in littoral-warfare support is finding new life as an academic tool under NASA management, and already has drawn some seed money as a pathfinder for commercial Earth observation.

Facing Earth in open space on the Japanese Experiment Module’s porchlike Exposed Facility, the Hyperspectral Imager for Coastal Oceans (HICO) continues to return at least one image a day of near-shore waters with unprecedented spectral and spatial resolution.

HICO was built to provide a low-cost means to study the utility of hyperspectral imaging from orbit in meeting the Navy’s operational needs close to shore. Growing out of its experiences in the Persian Gulf and other shallow-water operations, the Office of Naval Research wanted to evaluate the utility of space-based hyperspectral imagery to characterize littoral waters and conduct bathymetry to track changes over time that could impact operations.

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) developed HICO, which was based on airborne hyperspectral imagery technology and off-the-shelf hardware to hold down costs. HICO was launched Sept. 10, 2009, on a Japanese H-2 transfer vehicle as part of the HICO and RAIDS (Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection System) Experimental Payloads; it returned its first image two weeks later.

In three years of Navy-funded operations, HICO “exceeded all its goals,” says Mary Kappus, coastal and ocean remote sensing branch head at NRL.

“In the past it was blue ocean stuff, and things have moved more toward interest in the coastal ocean,” she says. “It is a much more difficult environment. In the open ocean, multi-spectral was at least adequate.”

NASA, the U.S. partner on the ISS, took over HICO in January 2013 after Navy funding expired. The Navy also released almost all of the HICO data collected during its three years running the instrument. It has been posted for open access on the HICO website managed by Oregon State University.

While the Navy program was open to most researchers, the principal-investigator approach and the service’s multistep approval process made it laborious to gain access on the HICO instrument.

“[NASA] wanted it opened up, and we had to get permission from the Navy to put the historical data on there,” says Kappus. “So anything we collect now goes on there, and then we ask the Navy for permission to put old data on there. They reviewed [this] and approved releasing most of it.”

Under the new regime NRL still operates the HICO sensor, but through the NASA ISS payload office at Marshall Space Flight Center. This more-direct approach has given users access to more data and, depending on the target’s position relative to the station orbit, a chance to collect two images per day instead of one. Kappus explains that the data buffer on HICO is relatively small, so coordination with the downlink via the Payload Operations Center at Marshall is essential to collecting data before the buffer fills up.

Task orders are worked through the same channels. Presenting an update to HICO users in Silver Spring, Md., on May 7, Kappus said 171 of 332 total “scenes” targeted between Nov. 11, 2013, and March 12 were requested by researchers backed by the NRL and NASA; international researchers comprised the balance.

Data from HICO is posted on NASA’s Ocean Color website, where usage also is tracked. After the U.S., “China is the biggest user” of the website data, Kappus says, followed by Germany, Japan and Russia. The types of data sought, such as seasonal bathymetry that shows changes in the bottom of shallow waters, has remained the same through the transition from Navy to NASA.

“The same kinds of things are relevant for everybody; what is changing in the water,” she says.

HICO offers unprecedented detail from its perch on the ISS, providing 90-meter (295-ft.) resolution across wavelengths of 380-960 nanometers sampled at 5.7 nanometers. Sorting that rich dataset requires sophisticated software, typically custom-made and out of the reach of many users.

To expand the user set for HICO and future Earth-observing sensors on the space station, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, the non-profit set up by NASA to promote the commercial use of U.S. National Laboratory facilities on the ISS, awarded a $150,000 grant to HySpeed Computing, a Miami-based startup, and [Exelis] to demonstrate an online imaging processing system that can rapidly integrate new algorithms.

James Goodman, president/CEO of HySpeed, says the idea is to build a commercial way for users to process HICO data for their own needs at the same place online that they get it.

“Ideally a copy of this will [be] on the Oregon State server where the data resides,” Goodman says. “As a HICO user you would come in and say ‘I want to use this data, and I want to run this process.’ So you don’t need your own customized remote-sensing software. It expands it well beyond the research crowd that has invested in high-end remote-sensing software. It can be any-level user who has a web browser.”

Science and Innovation on the International Space Station – 2014 ISS R&D Conference

ISS R&D 2014 logoDiscoveries, Applications and Opportunities” was the theme of the 3rd annual International Space Station Research and Development (ISS R&D) conference, held in Chicago, IL from 17-19 June 2014.

From life sciences and biotechnology to physical sciences and Earth observation, the breadth of topics discussed at this conference was inspiring. The ISS represents a truly remarkable orbiting platform for performing unique scientific research, promoting education opportunities, and developing applications and products that benefit life here on Earth.

Additionally, with the recent focus on commercialization of space, entrepreneurs and innovators now have greater access than ever before to utilize the unique capabilities the ISS has to offer. In 2005, the U.S. portion of the ISS was designated a national laboratory, which included a specific directive to expand its utilization amongst both government and private entities alike. To help accomplish this objective, in 2011, NASA selected the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage and maximize use of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

“By carefully selecting research and funding projects, by connecting investors looking for opportunity to scientists with great ideas, and by making access to the station faster and easier, CASIS will drive scientific inquiry toward developing groundbreaking new technologies and products that will tangibly affect our lives.” (www.iss-casis.org)

Example case studies of entrepreneurship on the ISS presented at the conference included, among others: D-Orbit, a company focused on reducing the proliferation of space debris; Benevolent Technologies, a healthcare company developing custom fit prosthetics using remold-able material; Kentucky Space, a non-profit consortium supporting medical and other research projects in microgravity; and Zero Gravity Solutions, a company that has developed a micronutrient delivery system allowing plants to absorb specific minerals and nutrients.

Also presented at the conference were various sensor systems and instrumentation capabilities utilizing the ISS as a platform for Earth observation. For example, representatives from NanoRacks, PlanetLabs, Urthecast and Teledyne Brown Engineering participating in a panel discussion on why their companies selected the ISS and what their vision is for the future of remote sensing from the ISS. Other conference sessions on Earth observation included:

  • a smartphone app from the Environmental Protection Agency for monitoring water quality;
  • a web-enabled image processing system developed by HySpeed Computing;
  • sensor characteristics, data availability and image applications using ISERV Pathfinder, ISS-IMAP, ISS Agricultural Camera and RapidScat; and
  • participation of ISS in image collection for disaster response.

As another focus, beyond today’s current ISS capabilities, and even beyond the limits of Earth itself, the conference also included a plenary session devoted to how the ISS is being used for technology and human health research as a pathway to Mars exploration. And another plenary session, which included representatives from Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Boeing, and Blue Origin, provided an overview of “getting there and back” – highlighting the latest developments in commercial vehicles for human spaceflight.

There is truly an incredible amount of science being conducted more than 300 km above our heads. The above are but a few of the many exceptional presentations, which also included talks by Nobel Laureate Samuel Ting and NASA Astronauts Greg Johnson, Nicole Stott and John Grunsfeld.

To attend or participate in next year’s conference, which will take place 7-9 July 2015 in Boston, MA, just visit www.astronautical.org. The call for papers will be released in September 2014. See you there!

Application Tips for ENVI 5.x – An IDL application for opening HDF5 formatted HICO scenes

This is part of a series on tips for getting the most out of your geospatial applications. Check back regularly or follow HySpeed Computing to see the latest examples and demonstrations.

Objective: Open a HICO dataset stored in HDF5 format using an IDL application prepared by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

This is a supplement to an earlier post that similarly describes how to open HDF5 formatted HICO files using either the H5_Browser or new HDF5 Reader in ENVI.

HICO Montgomery Reef, Australia

Scenario: This tip demonstrates how to implement IDL code for opening a HDF5 HICO scene from Montgomery Reef, Australia into ENVI format. Subsequent steps are included for preparing the resulting data for further analysis.

The HICO dataset used in this example (H2012095004112.L1B_ISS) was downloaded from the NASA GSFC archive, which can be reached either through the HICO website at Oregon State University or the NASA GSFC Ocean Color website. Note that you can also apply to become a registered HICO Data User through the OSU website, and thereby obtain access to datasets already in ENVI format.

The IDL code used in this example is available from the NASA GSFC Ocean Color website under Documents > Software/Tools > IDL Library > hico. The three IDL files you need are: byte_ordering.pro, nrl_hico_h5_to_flat.pro and write_nrl_header.pro.

The same IDL code is also included here for your convenience:  nrl_hico_h5_to_flat,  byte_ordering  and  write_nrl_header (re-distributed here with permission; disclaimers included in the code). However, to use these files (which were renamed so they could be attached to the post), you will first need to change the file extensions from *.txt to *.pro.

Running this code requires only minor familiarity working with IDL and the IDL Workbench.

The Tip: Below are steps to open the HICO L1B radiance and navigation datasets in ENVI using the IDL code prepared by the Naval Research Laboratory:

  • Start by unpacking the compressed folder (e.g., H2012095004112.L1B_ISS.bz2). If other software isn’t readily available, a good option is to download 7-zip for free from http://www.7-zip.org/.
  • Rename the resulting HDF5 file with a *.h5 extension (e.g., H2012095004112.L1B_ISS.h5). This allows the HDF5 tools in the IDL application to recognize the appropriate format.
  • If you downloaded the IDL files from this post, rename them from *.txt to *.pro (e.g., nrl_hico_h5_to_flat.txt to nrl_hico_h5_to_flat.pro); otherwise, if you downloaded them from the NASA website they already have the correct naming convention.
  • Open the IDL files in the IDL Workbench. To do so, simply double-click the files in your file manager and the files should automatically open in IDL if it is installed on your machine. Alternatively, you can launch either ENVI+IDL or just IDL and then select File > Open in the IDL Workbench.
  • Compile each of the files in the following order: (i) nrl_hico_h5_to_flat.pro, (ii) byte_ordering.pro, and (iii) write_nrl_header.pro. In the IDL Workbench this can be achieved by clicking on the tab associated with a given file and then selecting the Compile button in the menu bar.
  • You will ultimately only run the code for nrl_hico_h5_to_flat.pro, but this application is dependent on the other files; hence the reason they also need to be compiled.
  • Run the code for nrl_hico_h5_to_flat.pro, which this is done by clicking the tab for this file and then selecting the Run button in the menu bar.
  • You will then be prompted for an *.h5 input file (e.g., H2012095004112.L1B_ISS.h5), and a directory where you wish to write the output files.
  • There is no status bar associated with this operation; however, if you look closely at the IDL prompt in the IDL Console at the bottom of the Workbench you will note that it changes color while the process is running and returns to its normal color when the process is complete. In any event, the procedure is relatively quick and typically finishes in less than a minute.
  • Once complete, two sets of output files are created (data files + associated header files), one for the L1B radiance data and one for the navigation data.

Data Preparation: Below are the final steps needed to prepare the HICO data for further processing (repeated here in part from our previous post):

  • Open the L1B radiance and associated navigation data in ENVI. You will notice one side of the image exhibits a black stripe containing zero values.
  • As noted on the HICO website: “At some point during the transit and installation of HICO, the sensor physically shifted relative to the viewing slit. The edge of the viewing slit was visible in every scene.” This effect is removed by simply cropping out affected pixels in each of the data files. For scenes in standard forward orientation (+XVV), cropping includes 10 pixels on the left of the scene and 2 pixels on the right. Conversely, for scenes in reverse orientation (-XVV), cropping is 10 pixels on the right and 2 on the left.
  • If you’re not sure about the orientation of a particular scene, the orientation is specified in the newly created header file under hico_orientation_from_quaternion.
  • Spatial cropping can be performed by selecting Raster Management > Resize Data in the ENVI toolbox, choosing the relevant input file, selecting the option for Spatial Subset, subset the image for Samples 11-510 for forward orientation (3-502 for reverse orientation), and assigning a new output filename. Repeat as needed for each dataset.
  • The HDF5 formatted HICO scenes also require spectral cropping to reduce the total wavelengths from 128 to the 87 band subset from 0.4-0.9 um (400-900 nm). The bands outside this subset are considered less accurate and typically not included in analysis.
  • Spectral cropping can also be performed by selecting Raster Management > Resize Data in the ENVI toolbox, only in this case using the option to Spectral Subset and selecting bands 10-96 (corresponding to 0.40408-0.89669 um) while excluding bands 1-9 and 97-128. This step need only be applied to the hyperspectral L1B radiance data.
  • If desired, spectral and spatial cropping can both be applied in the same step.
  • The HICO scene is now ready for further processing and analysis in ENVI.

For more information on the sensor, detailed data characteristics, ongoing research projects, publications and presentations, and much, much more, HICO users are encouraged to visit the HICO website at Oregon State University. This is an excellent resource for all things HICO.

Hyperspectral Imaging from the ISS – Highlights from the 2014 HICO Data Users Meeting

The annual HICO Data Users Meeting was recently held in Washington, D.C. from 7-8 May 2014. This meeting was an opportunity for the HICO science community to exchange ideas, present research accomplishments, showcase applications, and discuss hyperspectral image processing techniques. With more than a dozen presentations and ample discussion throughout, it was an insightful and very informative meeting.


The HICO and RAIDS Experiment Payload installed on the Japanese Experiment Module (credit: NASA)

Highlights from 2104 HICO Data Users Meeting include:

  • Mary Kappus (Naval Research Laboratory) summarized the status of the HICO mission, including an overview of current instrument and data management operations. Notable upcoming milestones include the 5 year anniversary of HICO in September 2014 and the acquisition of HICO’s 10,000th scene – impressive achievements for a sensor that began as just a technology demonstration.
  • Jasmine Nahorniak (Oregon State University) presented an overview of the OSU HICO website, which provides a comprehensive database of HICO sensor information and data characteristics. The website also includes resources for searching and downloading data from the OSU HICO archives, visualizing orbit and target locations in Google Earth, and an online tool (currently in beta testing) for performing atmospheric correction using tafkaa_6s.
  • Sean Bailey (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) outlined the HICO data distribution and image processing capabilities at NASA. HICO support was initially added to SeaDAS in April 2013, with data distribution beginning in July 2013. In less than a year, as of February 2014, NASA has distributed 4375 HICO scenes to users in 25 different countries. NASA is also planning to soon incorporate additional processing capabilities in SeaDAS to generate HICO ocean color products.
  • With respect to HICO applications: Lachlan McKinna (NASA GSFC) presented a project using time series analysis to detect bathymetry changes in Shark Bay, Western Australia; Marie Smith (University of Cape Town) described a chlorophyll study in Saldanha Bay, South Africa; Darryl Keith (US EPA) discussed the use of HICO for monitoring coastal water quality; Wes Moses (NRL) summarized HICO capabilities for retrieving estimates of bathymetry, bottom type, surface velocity and chlorophyll; and Curtiss Davis (OSU) presented HICO applications for assessing rivers, river plumes, lakes and estuaries.
  • In terms of image processing techniques, Marcos Montes (NRL) summarized the requirements and techniques for improved geolocation, ZhongPing Lee (UMass Boston) presented a methodology for atmospheric correction using cloud shadows, and Curtiss Davis (OSU) discussed various aspects of calibration and atmospheric correction.
  • James Goodman (HySpeed Computing) presented an overview of the functionality and capabilities of the HICO Online Processing Tool, a prototype web-enabled, scalable, geospatial data processing system based on the ENVI Services Engine. The tool is scheduled for release later this year, at which time it will be openly available to the science community for testing and evaluation.

Interested in more information? The meeting agenda and copies of presentations are provided on the OSU HICO website.

About HICO (http://hico.coas.oregonstate.edu/): “The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO™) is an imaging spectrometer based on the PHILLS airborne imaging spectrometers. HICO is the first spaceborne imaging spectrometer designed to sample the coastal ocean. HICO samples selected coastal regions at 90 m with full spectral coverage (380 to 960 nm sampled at 5.7 nm) and a very high signal-to-noise ratio to resolve the complexity of the coastal ocean. HICO demonstrates coastal products including water clarity, bottom types, bathymetry and on-shore vegetation maps. Each year HICO collects approximately 2000 scenes from around the world. The current focus is on providing HICO data for scientific research on coastal zones and other regions around the world. To that end we have developed this website and we will make data available to registered HICO Data Users who wish to work with us as a team to exploit these data.”

HySpeed Computing Announces New Project – Remote Sensing on the International Space Station

CASIS Reaches Agreement with HySpeed Computing and Exelis for Hyperspectral Image Analysis Using Cloud Computing

Originally published by CASIS on February 20, 2014


KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL. (February 20th, 2014) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today announced an agreement with HySpeed Computing and Exelis for a project demonstrating cloud computing capabilities for image processing and remote sensing applications on the International Space Station (ISS). CASIS was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

HySpeed Computing and Exelis plan to develop a prototype online, on-demand image processing system using example data from the Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO). The system will leverage the recently released ENVI Services Engine, and include a web-interface for users to access a collection of image processing applications derived from the HICO user community.

HICO is a hyperspectral instrument specializing in visible and near-infrared camera technology, designed specifically for imaging the coastal zone and ocean waters. HICO is part of the first U.S. experiment payload on the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) on the International Space Station (ISS), and has acquired thousands of images from around the globe since its launch in 2009.

“We are excited to be supported by CASIS,” said HySpeed Computing President James Goodman. “We believe this project will demonstrate an effective pathway for inspiring innovation and facilitating technology transfer in the geospatial marketplace.”

“This partnership with HySpeed Computing and Exelis is another example of leveraging existing assets onboard the ISS for terrestrial benefit,” said CASIS Director of Operations, Ken Shields. “During its existence, HICO has proven to be a dynamic camera capable of delivering the unique vantage point of the ISS to better understand our oceans and shorelines.”

For information about CASIS opportunities, including instructions on submitting research ideas, please visit:  www.iss-casis.org/solicitations

Additionally, CASIS currently has a solicitation in remote sensing open to the research community. Letters of intent are required to move forward in the proposal process. Letters of intent are due tomorrow, February 21, 2014. To learn more visit: www.iss-casis.org/Opportunities/Solicitations/RFPRemoteSensing.aspx

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About CASIS: The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) was selected by NASA in July 2011 to maximize use of the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory through 2020. CASIS is dedicated to supporting and accelerating innovations and new discoveries that will enhance the health and wellbeing of people and our planet. For more information, visit: http://www.iss-casis.org/.

About the ISS National Laboratory: In 2005, Congress designated the U.S. portion of the International Space Station as the nation’s newest national laboratory to maximize its use for improving life on Earth, promoting collaboration among diverse users and advancing STEM education. This unique laboratory environment is available for use by other U.S. government agencies and by academic and private institutions, providing access to the permanent microgravity setting, vantage point in low earth orbit and varied environments of space.

# # #

Source: Feb 20, 2014 CASIS press release.

An ISS CubeSat Laboratory – Your vote can help launch this idea to space

CASIS, the Center for the Advancement of Space in Science, is currently holding a contest on “Your Idea in Space: What Would You Send to the ISS?” HySpeed Computing submitted an entry to the contest for sending a user-configurable CubeSat Laboratory to the International Space Station. There are lots of other great ideas submitted to the contest and we encourage you to read through the various entries.

If you like our idea, then we’d appreciate your vote as well on any feedback on how to improve the concept. Voting is open from September 20 through October 4 and each voter can cast up to five votes. The contest is accessible here: http://www.iss-casis.org/contest/voting-public.html

See below for a summary of our entry:

CASIS ISS contest

We would send a user-configurable CubeSat laboratory to the ISS that would allow on-demand creation and deployment of customized nanosatellites to address opportunistic and time-critical Earth observation tasks. This laboratory would have scientific, societal and commercial benefits. Key components of this laboratory include:

  • A space-qualified 3D printer for on-demand manufacture of the CubeSat framework.
  • A collection of pre-assembled Arduino components configured for different Earth observation tasks.
  • Communication through standard ISS channels to allow for user-customization.
  • Launch achieved via Japanese Experiment Module using the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer.
  • Satellites de-orbited so as not to contribute to space debris.

Earth observation is pervasive throughout our society, with important roles in both government and private sectors, including utilities, natural resources, agriculture and consumer product markets. The demand for this data also continues to grow, with many companies now looking to apply big-data analytics to Earth observing data for use in business enterprise. While there are numerous government and commercially operated Earth observing satellites currently in orbit, sensors are not always available, not always positioned appropriately and not always affordable for particular events and applications.

CubeSats offer a relatively low-cost option for addressing specific Earth observing needs, but are still limited by traditional launch requirements for achieving orbit. As an alternative, however, the ISS represents a space-based platform for CubeSat deployment, and as of the 2012 installation of the Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) now has the capability for launching small satellites into Earth orbit via an airlock and robotic arm.

Arduinos, which consist of open-source electronic hardware, and 3D printers, which can generate three-dimensional objects based on a digital model, are both user-configurable technologies that can be applied to a host of different design and manufacture applications. Additionally, configuration does not require hands-on modification but can instead be implemented remotely through software.

Integrating these different concepts converges to a space-based CubeSat laboratory, which uses Arduino components and 3D printing to manufacture CubeSats that are deployed into Earth orbit from the ISS.

In addition to providing scientific and commercial benefits, the CubeSat laboratory would offer unique opportunities for educational initiatives, both with respect to creating the laboratory itself and the subsequent design, deployment and application of different CubeSat missions. This would also be a valuable resource for the entire Earth observing community.

For more information on CASIS: http://www.iss-casis.org/