360-degree cameras take stunning pictures of Earth from space

A view truly out of this world: Breathtaking images of Earth captured by first ultra-high resolution camera in space shows our ‘Blue Marble’ like you’ve never seen it before

  • Insta360 launched two X2 cameras to capture a birds-eye-view of Earth 
  • The cameras were researched, developed, and modified over 12 months, beginning in 2021
  • The X2 cameras are attached to satellites located 500km away from Earth 
  • READ MORE:  James Webb Telescope captures stunning pictures in outer space

Breathtaking photos from the first ultra-high resolution camera in Earth’s orbit shows our bright blue planet against the black abyss of space.

The photos were taken from a 360-degree camera launched into space by a private Chinese company who described it as an ‘astronomical achievement’.

Shenzhen-based camera company Insta360 says these images are just the tip of the iceberg. Soon, it plans to capture similarly crisp images of the stars and the Milky Way.

The engineers on the project spent 12 months modifying the company’s commercially available cameras to make their journey off-world, including six months of research and development that involved mimicking or exceeding the harsh conditions, including cosmic radiation, that the cameras would encounter in space.

Insta360 attached its X2 cameras to satellites to take 360-degree photos of Earth from space

The satellite circles the globe once every 90 minutes, as the X2s take constant photos of the stars, Earth, and the Milky Way

With temperatures in space hovering between -94 degrees Fahrenheit and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the region of Earth the camera is circling, developers conducted thousands of tests.

Testing included placing the cameras in high and low-temperature boxes, radiation testing, and using vacuum simulations.

The company launched two X2 cameras 500 km into space on January 16 and attached them to satellites where they exposed them to harsh environments including extreme heat and cold, radiation, and the shock and vibration associated with the rocket launch. 

‘The project runs on hard work, but a fair bit of luck, too. Space can be unpredictable, and there is no backup hardware or software if the camera runs into any issues,’ the company said.

‘Luckily, both cameras and their sensors are still fully functioning and offer an incredible look at outer space.’

The company’s X2 camera’s are so incredible, in fact, that their 5.7K resolution, 360-degree videos and photos  can’t be fully appreciated on YouTube or even when viewed on many high-end TVs, which top out at 4K. 

Currently, Insta360 ONE X2 cameras are available for purchase by the public for about $300 USD.

The X2 cameras are programmed to continue circling the globe for the next two years before they burn up in space.

Insta360 had their camera’s tested in a thermal vacuum chamber, also known as a Space Environment Simulator, which is used to expose equipment to the environment conditions it will experience in space, particularly by adjusting it to extreme temperatures and reducing the atmospheric pressure.

To do this, the SES uses a cryopump which is essentially a larger version of the vacuum cleaner people use at home.

The cryopump removes all gases by injecting liquid nitrogen into the chamber to eliminate all except the tiniest amount of air, reducing it to about one billionth of the normal atmospheric pressure on Earth.

During the initial tests, engineers found that the camera’s systems would crash in extremely cold temperatures and that the glue sealing the X2 could be affected by radiation. The company’s vacuum environment test also revealed it could cause the lens to lose pressure, resulting in poor resolution and image quality.

Engineers started developing the project in July 2021, with the intention to launch in 2022 but were forced to postpone due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insta360 said its X2 cameras take a full lap around Earth every 90 minutes and are programmed to run for two years when they will automatically leave the Earth’s orbit and burn up in space.

The company said it partnered with Media Storm and satellite company Spacety to make the mission a success.

Spacety’s satellites employ an increasingly common, but clever ‘synthetic-aperture radar’ (SAR) system — which recreates the high-resolution imaging of larger satellites, with larger antennas, just by tweaking the wavelengths of signals emitted by the SAR satellites’ much smaller antennas.

Insta360 partnered with Spacety Co. Ltd. to launch its cameras on the company’s satellites in January. Spacety’s satellites employ an increasingly common, but clever ‘synthetic-aperture radar’ (SAR) system, which recreates the high-resolution imaging of larger satellites, with larger antennas, by tweaking the wavelengths of signals emitted by much smaller antennas

Insta360 re-designed two of their commercially available X2 cameras (pictured) to withstand the harsh conditions they would experience in space. The development took 12 months and thousands of tests.

Despite the magnificent images, US officials listed Spacety Co. Ltd. as a potential security threat back in January. 

The US Department of the Treasury (DoT) accused Spacety of supporting the Wagner Group’s military operations in Russia and supporting the country’s military activities in Ukraine.

It claimed Spacety provided ‘financial, material, or technical support for, or goods or services to or in support of Terra Tech,’ which it identified as a company operating in the tech sector for the Russian Federation Army.

Spacety denied the accusations in a statement, saying it has complied with the international sanctions imposed on Russia and claims it ‘never had any commercial relationship, or made any deal, or signed any agreements with the Russian entity accused by the United States.’

The company added: ‘We have stopped all commercial relationships or business with other Russian entities since the Russo-Ukrainian War started, and we have never and ever participated in any form of military activities in support of the Russo-Ukrainian War and the Wagner Group.’

Spacety was added to the SDN list only a week after Insta360 launched the X2 cameras to its satellite.

The DoT did not specify if there was a correlation between the Insta360 launch and its decision to add Spacety to its SDN list.

Insta360 did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment, which was sent outside regular business hours based on time zone differences.

The company did not mention any concerns about working with Spacety, instead saying it has achieved the impossible, focusing only on the remarkable photos its cameras captured as they’ve circled the globe from space.

‘Despite obstacles, the project truly encapsulates what it means to ‘Think bold’ and has only fueled Insta360’s desire to develop products that endure extreme conditions,’ the company said in its press release.

It concluded: ‘This is only the start of how far Insta360 can push the limits!’

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