We Can See Clearly Now: ISS Window Observational Research Facility
March 5, 2014 6:48 AM   Subscribe

"Like a human who just went through laser vision correction, the International Space Station (ISS) recently got a clearer view of our world. That improved view is opening up new vistas for students in American classrooms." A gorgeous photo of British Columbia's snow-capped mountains was the first view delivered via the Window Observational Research Facility at the U.S. Laboratory Science Window on the International Space Station. This video explanation of the window (part 2) is hosted by three-time shuttle veteran Mario Runco.
posted by jbickers (9 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Jeez guys seriously more WORF posts?

sorry... this, like Worf, is fantastic
posted by polyhedron at 6:55 AM on March 5, 2014 [8 favorites]

The Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) 

posted by littlesq at 7:13 AM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

Probably could have gotten some Microsoft money with an additional letter in the name.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:19 AM on March 5, 2014

"...and includes the highest quality optics ever flown on a human-occupied spacecraft."
Well this may be true of course, and it's a neat tool they have for the ISS, but as the wording would seem to suggest, there are two platforms that take (and have taken, for dozens of years) clearer photos with much better resolving capabilities: 01.) non-human-occupied spacecraft (LEO satellites), and 02.) human occupied non-spacecraft (airplanes).

The former can resolve objects of 50cm (for civilian use), and the latter down to 10cm. Most of (non-Alaska) U.S. is covered in 50cm imagery (multiple sets, going back years), and most densely populated areas are covered by airphoto (multiple sets, going back years).

The only thing I can think of that would "[open] up new vistas for students in American classrooms" would be some limited off-nadir viewing capability... but that can be projected (at higher resolution) with existing data.

I'm not Google's biggest fan, but with Google Earth, they actually have delivered on the promise of opening up blah blah blah for American classrooms. I don't know how many classrooms have taken them up on this -- but they'd be much better served by the hundreds of public and private datasets used by that software than by ISS photos.

On preview: I gather that these links about a 3-year-old article was an attempt at some stunt-post? Eh... take your lulz where you find 'em, I guess, but that ain't a particularly good-faith way to kick off a conversation, imo.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 7:19 AM on March 5, 2014

I still think I'd prefer spending my time out on the observation deck.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:21 AM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The mountain shot is awesome. If you're ever lucky enough to fly over the Rockies, or even the Coast range, on a clear day, it's absolutely gorgeous. All kinds of weird little nooks and crannies and bright-colored pools on a backdrop of waves of snow and rock.
posted by Hoopo at 8:09 AM on March 5, 2014

Closing the circle: LASIK is a spinoff of the space program. The algorithms developed for automated docking are used in LASIK to help the laser track the movement of the eye.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:37 AM on March 5, 2014

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