International Space Station ISS

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Did You Know…

…that a Pair of ZEISS Binoculars Is Orbiting the Earth?


“Space: the final frontier.” These are the opening words of the classic episodes of the TV series “Star Trek.” The show features the many adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in space beginning in “stardate 2200.” Binoculars from ZEISS are already in space today – on the International Space Station (ISS), to be exact.

The ISS has been under ongoing construction since 1998 and is currently the largest man-made object in space. At a distance of 400 kilometers from the earth’s surface, it completes one full orbit of our planet every 90 minutes. The ISS is to be operated by the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada, and Japan until at least 2020, and has been manned continuously since 2 November 2000. In all, over 200 people have been on the space station, around 80 of them staying for extended periods.

Along with scientific experiments, the ISS is also used to observe the earth. This area is under the management of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Photos taken by astronauts are particularly important for this, as they supplement the images captured by earth observation satellites. This is because the camera angle is not fixed in place on the ISS. For many years, the astronauts have been using ZEISS 20x60 T* S binoculars to find and select relevant subjects.

The unique feature of these binoculars is their capacity for optimal observation at extremely long distances. At 20x magnification, blurring of the image under observation due to slight hand movements is inevitable. However, the binoculars are fitted with an integrated mechanical image stabilizer with a cardanic flexural pivot. This feature means that hand-tremor can be instantaneously eliminated at the touch of a button. Even though the binoculars have been on the market since 1990, their optics and mechanics remain unique to this day. So it is no wonder that the astronauts on the ISS trust these binoculars for use in space – after all, where else can such astronomical distances be found?

 

11 December 2012