HICO Image Processing System – Update

(14-Dec-2016) Please pardon the interruption. The HICO Image Processing System is currently being migrated to another hosting platform and will be back up and running soon. Stay tuned here for an announcement once the maintenance is complete. Thank you.


ISS National Lab Releases Gap Analysis on Earth Observation Capabilities from ISS

HySpeed Computing is proud to announce release of the “Campaign Good Earth, Gap Analysis Report” – authored by our own Dr. James Goodman. The report provides an investigative review of remote sensing capabilities from the International Space Station (ISS), including current facilities and resources as well as opportunities for future development.

Campaign Good Earth Gap Analysis Report

ISS National Lab, On Station (28 April 2016) – Last year, CASIS commissioned a study to evaluate the capabilities and limitations of the ISS as a host for commercial remote sensing payloads, including the products and needs of the data analytics community. A full report is now available detailing the findings of this study in the context of the expanding commercial market for Earth observation technologies and analysis.

The ISS provides a unique vantage point for Earth observation, and the ISS infrastructure itself provides many advantages as a robust platform for sensor deployment. Real-time and time-series information gathered from remote sensing applications have proven invaluable to resource management, environmental monitoring, geologic and oceanographic studies, and assistance with disaster relief efforts. This report, an analysis of the gaps between ISS capabilities and limitations in the remote sensing market, is meant to initiate a path toward optimal use of the ISS National Lab as a platform for project implementation and technology development. The report includes:

  • Expert contacts from NASA, CASIS, commercial leaders, and government agencies
  • Recommendations for how to support humanitarian and educational enrichment
  • Implementation strategies for hardware and technology adaptation on the ISS
  • Details on current and planned missions, data sources, and validation requirements

Download the report here.

2015 ISS R&D Conference – Evolution or Revolution

The 2015 International Space Station Research & Development Conference (ISS R&D) took place recently in Boston, MA from July 7-9.

It was an amazing week of insights and information on the innovations and discoveries taking place on board the ISS, as well as glimpses of the achievements yet to come.

2015 ISS R&D

A highlight of the first day was a conversation with Elon Musk, who mused on his initial commercial forays into space, the state of his transformative company SpaceX, and a view of his vision for the future of space travel, research and exploration.

Core topics discussed at ISS R&D 2015 included everything from biology and human health, to materials development and plant science, to remote sensing and Earth observation, to space travel and human exploration. Here are a few of the top highlights:

  • NASA and its partner agencies have transitioned from assembling an amazingly complex vehicle in space to now utilizing this vehicle for the benefit of humanity.
  • The feat of building and maintaining the International Space Station is often underrated and overlooked, but it’s an incredible achievement, and everyone is encouraged to explore the marvels of what has been, and continues to be, accomplished.
  • We are advancing to a future where space transport will become commonplace, and it is the science, humanitarian, exploration and business opportunities that will be the new focus of ISS utilization.
  • The ISS is an entrepreneur engine, as evidenced in part by the rise of the new space economy. For example, new markets are emerging in the remote sensing domain, with NanoRacks, Teledyne Brown Engineering and Urthecast all making investments in expanding Earth observation from the ISS.
  • The future of the ISS, and its continued operation, is a direct function of the success or failure of what is happening on the ISS right now. The greater the success, the brighter the future.

Throughout the week a question was often asked whether the ISS is evolutionary or revolutionary… and in the end the answer was both!

Interested in learning more about the ISS? Visit the recently launched website  spacestationresearch.com to “explore the new era of science in space for life on Earth”.

Also, save the data for next year’s conference, which is taking place July 12-14, 2016 in San Diego, California. See you there!

“Space is now closer than you think.”

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!

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.

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Source: Feb 20, 2014 CASIS press release.