Image Visual SAT-Flare
Tracker 3D

20 November 2010 - By Simone Corbellini


An unusual perspective of the World
Earth and sky as seen from the International Space Station

A spectacular photograph taken from the ISS on the 28 of October 2010 shows many stars and the Earth during nighttime around the south of Italy.

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The Planet from the ISS
(Photo by NASA)

Despite we usually need programs to simulate what we see in the sky observing from the Earth, it is interesting to take a look at what we could see looking down from satellites.

By using a new function of the "Visual SAT-Flare Tracker 3D" program it is possible now to place the observer aboard the satellite and to look around. To check this function, I have generated the same scene captured by the crew of the ISS.
The results are visible in the following screenshot:


Fig. 1 - 3D Picture of the ISS view at 23.32.42 UTC. This picture tries to reproduce the same perspective of the original photograph.

The match of both the ground and the star positions is quite amazing; the best result can be obtained at about 23.33.40 UTC, which provides a good estimation of the camera orientation and of the photo's time as well. In the simulation, the camera was looking backward at about 15 off (right) the ISS orbit and tilted about 20 toward the ground. The camera field of view was set to 100.

The ISS position around the globe at the simulation time is represented in the next picture; the white circle represents the visibility area of the ISS (satellite at about 350 km above the Earth surface):

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ISS Position
Fig. 2 - The ISS position at the photo's time. 

About 4 minutes later the crew took another photograph, whose full resolution file is available at the following link:

(Photo By NASA)

The Visual SAT-Flare Tracker 3D is now also able to generate stereographic pictures and videos (cross eyed stereo) of the ISS "flight". The following screenshots show five 3D stereo representations of the ISS view taken every 1 minute.

How to see these pictures? these  pictures can be seen crossing the eyes at about half a meter from the screen. A good explanation can be found here:

Stereo Picture

Fig. 3 - 3DS Pictures of the ISS view at 23.33.42 UTC

Stereo Picture
Fig. 4 - 3DS Pictures of the ISS view at 23.34.42 UTC

Stereo Picture
Fig. 5 - 3DS Pictures of the ISS view at 23.35.42 UTC

Stereo Picture
Fig. 6 - 3DS Pictures of the ISS view at 23.36.42 UTC

Stereo Picture
Fig. 7 - 3DS Pictures of the ISS view at 23.37.42 UTC

The same "flight" can be seen in a 3D stereo video; click on the following picture to start it. After a few seconds of real time video, the speed is increased.

Video 3D

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Visual SAT-Flare Tracker 3D - By Simone Corbellini -