Starting today, using Google's Street View, you can explore what life is like for the astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut at the European Space Agency spent 6 months on the space station and collected the data used to create the Google Street View of the Space Station. Capturing the imagery in zero gravity posed some challenges as the same methods used for Street View imagery on earth could not be replicated in space. The Street View team worked with NASA to develop a method for image capture that worked in zero gravity conditions. Things like image stabilization (a tripod is fairly useless in a zero gravity scenario) were challenges the team faced.
They spent two days in a mockup of the ISS, using only materials available to the astronauts, in order to figure out the best way to capture the images. In the end, they used DSLR cameras and equipment already on board the space station in order to take the photos, which were then sent down to earth for the Street View team to stitch together. The end result is a breathtaking, interactive tour of the station. There are little annotations and facts that pop up as you scroll over the images, giving further insight into what you are seeing, and what life is like for the astronauts living there.
The International Space Station is just the latest in a series of special collections you can explore on Google Street view. Using Google Street View, you can tour landmarks, museums, and natural wonders all over the world (and now beyond). Among the many items in the collection there is a series on Korean national parks, the world's oceans, a tour of the ruins at Machu Picchu, and highlights from many countries such as Norway and New Zealand. You can even tour Game of Thrones filming locations. Paired with Google Cardboard, these street view collections become immersive VR experiences, opening up the world in ways that simple photographs are simply unable to translate. You can access Google Street View through your desktop browser, or through free apps in the Google Play Store or on IOS.