Last month, at the top of the SSEP Homepage, we added a new section titled “Multimedia”, which includes currently 3 multimedia resources, each accessible by opening up a ‘toggle’. The new multimedia section is meant to provide SSEP students, teachers, and their communities a real world connection to the International Space Station, its crew, and the fact that this vehicle is right now traveling over the Earth at an altitude of 260 miles (47 times higher than Mt. Everest), at the fantastic speed of 4.5 miles per second (17,000 mph or 27,600 km/hr).

With this blog post we wanted to provide an overview of two of these multimedia resources, and how they can be used by teachers as powerful teachable moments, as well as provide a wonderful family activity at home.

1. ISS Current Location
Wouldn’t it be cool to know what part of Earth the International Space Station is passing over right now? It would give you an understanding of what the astronauts are seeing when they look down from space at this very moment, or alternatively, where on Earth you’d need to be right now to see ISS fly overhead (assuming its night time there). In fact, it would be pretty cool to know if ISS is on the day-lit side of Earth or on the night side. Are astronauts looking down on an Earth illuminated by sunlight, or on a dark Earth punctuated with lights from human population centers? Well. the good folks at the European Space Agency, an International Partner on ISS, have made it so–

The ISS Current Location tracker below was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA’s Columbus laboratory is a component of the ISS. Visit the ESA website for more information on the tracker.

2. HDEV Live View of Earth from ISS
Now for the next cool multimedia resource, which allows you to see what the astronauts are seeing right now when they look out an Earth-facing window on ISS. In the portal below is high definition video of your world being telemetered to Earth LIVE from the International Space Station. To determine what portion of Earth is in view, use the ‘ISS Current Location’ above.

We invite you to use this live video feed to get into the spirit of exploration on the frontiers of space – expand the video window (in a classroom, use a LCD projector to display on a large screen), select and play an audio file below, and look down from 260 miles above Earth’s surface. (Suggestions for other audio tracks are welcome:)

If the image is black, ISS is on the night side of Earth. To check, use the ‘ISS Current Location’ above. Note: ISS orbits Earth in 90 minutes, with 45 minutes of daylight followed by 45 minutes of darkness.


David Bowie’s Space Oddity, sung by Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield on ISS (watch his video)


Star Trek TNG

About HDEV, from NASA: The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the ISS was activated April 30, 2014. It is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. HDEV includes four fixed cameras positioned to capture imagery of the Earth’s surface and its limb as seen from the ISS – one camera pointing in the direction the station is moving, two cameras aft (wake), and one camera pointing straight down at Earth (nadir). While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence though the different cameras. Between camera switches, a gray and then black color slate will briefly appear. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit this NASA webpage.


The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

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