Geospatial Firm Upgrades Photography Software for International Space Station

Press Release From: NAG, Inc.
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Windows on Earth" will enhance global research and education

Los Angeles, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2012) - NAG, Inc., a Los Angeles-based geospatial firm and a Google Enterprise Preferred Partner, recently developed a new software platform that will improve the existing on-orbit photography software onboard the International Space Station (ISS). The new software will enhance the observation and collection of high-resolution imagery of the Earth for research and education. The software is currently being integrated, and will be deployed on the ISS in January 2013.

The software upgrade is part of an ongoing exploration project pioneered by TERC, a research organization that created a program called "Windows on Earth" to simulate the view of Earth as seen from windows aboard the ISS. "Windows on Earth" was developed with funding from the National Science Foundation as an educational tool for museums, and then was placed onboard the ISS in 2008 as a pilot program by the Association of Space Explorers, which recognized the potential of the simulation software for research.

Because Earth observation is an essential part of ISS scientific research, TERC received a $300,000 grant from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space to enhance and adapt the "Windows on Earth" software, which would make it a permanent tool on the ISS, and replace the current multi-step process for targeting, photographing and geo-referencing images. NAG was appointed Technical Development Lead for this phase of the project.

The new software developed by NAG uses the portable version of Google(R) Earth under generous educational grant license provisions to improve the current tools by providing more accurate simulations of Earth views through the ISS windows, and automatically links targets selected by scientists on the ground to the on-orbit photography management system.

"Essentially, our software allows scientists on earth to track the location of the space station as it orbits the earth, and coordinate their requests for geographic imagery," said Swapan Nag, CEO of NAG.

NAG's improvements will enable astronauts to photograph high-priority targets faster and more efficiently, which will provide scientists with more accurate and usable photographs for their research.

""Windows on Earth" will provide cutting-edge, next generation tools for the Earth observation program. It will help scientists and astronauts select and photograph targets, and will enhance use of these photographs in research and education," said Dan Barstow, TERC principal investigator for the "Windows on Earth" project.

In addition to their scientific value, Earth images are resources for education and public use. The public will have no cost access to these images when the next phase of a public website is launched.


Since John Glenn first took a camera on his ground-breaking orbital flight in 1962, Earth photography has been a major component of the space program. Some photographs, including the "Earth Rise" and "Blue Marble" photographs taken by the Apollo astronauts, have radically transformed our understanding of our planet and our intrinsic connection to its existence. The view of Earth from space is truly majestic; we see continents, vast oceans, clouds, mountains, volcanoes, roads, buildings and great metropolises. During the past 50 years, astronauts have taken more than 600,000 photographs of Earth's dynamic surface, for scientific research, education and public understanding of Earth.

About NAG, Inc.

Founded in 1991, NAG, Inc. is a technology solutions firm that specializes in providing geospatial and data visualization solutions and support services to federal, state, regional and local government agencies in science exploration, transportation, administrative services, economic development, community development, public utilities and public safety. NAG helps these agencies leverage the latest real time sharing technology, which increases their ability to process complex geospatial data and improves the speed, the access, the accuracy and the overall management of data, which allows them to create a deeper understanding of the world and response to situations. For more information about NAG, please visit

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