If you’ve always wanted to poke around inside a spaceship but don’t ever wish to leave the safety of Earth, Google Street View now lets you explore the International Space Station (ISS) right from your computer.
Astronauts have been working and living on the ISS for the past 16 years, and Street View now allows you to explore everything from the sleeping quarters to where the space suits are kept. This is the first time Street View has ventured beyond planet Earth, and the first time the feature also comes with handy little dots you can click on to launch notes that explain what everything does. The notes detail things like where the astronauts work out to stay fit, the kinds of food they eat and where scientific experiments are conducted.
The ISS is made up of 15 connected modules and Street View allows you to go between them.
The panoramic 360-degree imagery of the ISS couldn’t be created using Google Street View’s usual methods. So instead, the Google team worked with NASA and the Marshall Space Centre to create a “gravity-free method” of collecting pictures using DSLR cameras and equipment already on board. Thomas Pesquet, a European Space Agency astronaut on the ISS, then collected the photos in space and sent them down to Earth where they were stitched together to create the panoramas.
“We did a lot of troubleshooting before collecting the final imagery that you see today in Street View. The ISS has technical equipment on all surfaces, with lots of cables and a complicated layout with modules shooting off in all directions—left, right, up, down,” Pasquet wrote on Google’s blog.
“There are a lot of obstacles up there, and we had limited time to capture the imagery, so we had to be confident that our approach would work. Oh, and there’s that whole zero gravity thing.”
All the finessing seems to be well worth it — look at that view!