Space station ‘disaster cam’ captures views of flooded Calgary from orbit

During the devastation of the Alberta floods, those of us that weren't directly witness to it had to rely on cameras to show us the full extent of the tragedy and devastation, and there was one camera in particular, positioned far above the planet, that not only revealed to us a fresh perspective on the event, but the images it captured will help the region recover from this disaster.

The ISERV — ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System — is a special camera that was installed on the International Space Station back in January, by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and his fellow crew members. It's designed to be a 'disaster camera' — using its vantage point from orbit to capture images of disasters — floods, fires, hurricanes and landslides — which can be used by government agencies to assess the damage and plan their response.

The system is only in its testing phase right now, but even so, it's already proving its worth.

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"We're glad to be able to provide images to the Canadian government to help with response to this disaster and with assessing the damage. We're also pleased that ISERV's Pathfinder system, even in its 'shakedown' phase, is fulfilling our expectations of usefulness in the aftermath of disasters," said ISERV Principal Investigator Burgess Howell, according to

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