This monumental feat, which involved over a year of research, development, and testing, marks a significant milestone in space imaging.
Insta360, a leading camera company based in Shenzhen, China, initiated the project in 2021. The team focused on adapting their commercially available X2 cameras for the rigors of space.
On January 16, the company launched two X2 cameras 500 kilometers into space and attached them to satellites. The cameras were designed to withstand the extreme conditions of space, including extreme temperatures and cosmic radiation.
“The project runs on hard work, but a fair bit of luck, too. Space can be unpredictable, and there is no backup hardware or software if the camera runs into any issues,” said Insta360.
“Luckily, both cameras and their sensors are still fully functioning and offer an incredible look at outer space.”
The cameras have now captured stunning images of Earth, presenting the “Blue Marble” in extraordinary detail and from a unique 360-degree perspective.
To prepare for the space environment, Insta360 utilized a thermal vacuum chamber or Space Environment Simulator.
The engineers faced the daunting task of modifying the cameras to endure the harsh conditions of space.
This process involved extensive testing, including exposure to extreme temperatures, radiation, and vacuum simulations, to ensure the cameras’ functionality in orbit.
One of the critical challenges was the cameras’ response to extreme cold, leading to system crashes, and the impact of radiation on the sealing glue.
In addition, the vacuum environment tests revealed potential issues with lens pressure, threatening image resolution and quality. These hurdles were addressed to ensure the cameras’ resilience and operational excellence in space.
The X2 cameras boast an impressive 5.7K resolution, capturing 360-degree videos and photos of Earth against the backdrop of space.
The quality of these images surpasses the capabilities of standard viewing platforms, including YouTube and many high-end 4K TVs.
The success of this mission is attributed to collaborations with Media Storm and Spacety, a satellite company employing synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) systems. These systems enable high-resolution imaging comparable to larger satellites but with smaller antennas, showcasing innovative approaches in satellite technology.
Insta360’s X2 cameras are set to orbit Earth every 90 minutes for two years, after which they will exit Earth’s orbit and disintegrate in space.
This time frame offers a unique window for capturing extraordinary images of our planet and beyond, heralding a new era in space photography and exploration.
Image Credit: Insta360
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