The 2017 solar eclipse, which is set to occur on August 21, will be streamed from a high altitude — around 100,000 feet above the Earth, Science Alert reports.
NASA’s video platform Stream will make it possible by setting up a network of more than 50 high-altitude balloons with video equipment attached to them. Space-based solar observatories and Earth-bound telescopes will provide backup streaming equipment for a well-rounded coverage of the major celestial event.
— Jay Williams (@daghaalsuii) April 5, 2017
Stream, the two-year-old online video platform NASA will be using, has predicted that the people who will be watching the 2017 eclipse will outnumber those that livestreamed the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars in 2012, which had more than 100 million views.
It will be the first time a solar eclipse will be livestreamed at such high altitudes.
A solar eclipse and the Milky Way seen from the International Space Station pic.twitter.com/2LX29QVt4P
— Best of Galaxies ???? (@BestGalaxyPics) April 3, 2017
NASA referred to the livestream as the “Megastream” on account of the many platforms they’ll be using to cover the celestial event.
According to Stream’s CMO, Will Jamieson, they will have 57 teams launching high-altitude balloons from different locations within the path of totality to provide the best views of the 2017 solar eclipse.
On 8/21, the path of totality will have a maximum width of 71 miles and an average width of about 67. Make sure you're in the path! pic.twitter.com/gui8FiAiPO
— National Eclipse (@NationalEclipse) April 2, 2017
It’s interesting to note that while Stream’s project sounds extravagant, it’s been estimated that the team will only spend $4,000 for the hardware, from the balloon to the ground station, and the ground station costs, according to Mashable.
Jamieson said that he’s proud that Stream have had contracts with many prestigious companies, but said that this is the first time he signed a deal with NASA.
“NASA’s been one of my favorite brands ever,” he said.
Universities and scientific organizations around the U.S. volunteered to cooperate with NASA in releasing the high-altitude balloons in preparation for the livestream.
Angela Des Jardins, director of Montana Space Grant Consortium and Eclipse Ballooning Project director, issued a statement detailing the work done in building the equipment that is to be used in the streaming event.
“We have spent the last three years researching and building the camera payloads and ground stations in preparation for eclipse day. The live-video distribution was the last technical hurdle we needed to overcome, and the partnership with Stream allows us to focus on the payload technology while they handle the video.”
The 2017 solar eclipse livestreaming event is unprecedented on account of its accessibility to many people. Reports confirm that about 50 million people live within a few hours drive of the eclipse’s path of totality. Using solar eclipse glasses and pinhole cameras, observers will be able to see the Sun’s outer atmosphere during the event. Those who are located outside the path can still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun.
NASA’s Lisa Guhathakurta, described last year at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union what it’s like to see a solar eclipse while within the premises of its path of totality.
“All of a sudden, you know, you see a 360-degree sunset all around you. Stars appear. The temperature drops. You can actually hear chirping of grasshoppers. So, animals actually naturally go back to their nocturnal behavior.”
“A total solar eclipse, I would say, is widely regarded as probably one of the most breathtaking, amazing phenomena that you can observe from this planet Earth with your own eyes,” she added.
According to NASA, the Megastream coverage will allow them to communicate with scientists and members of the public across the US as they all watch and study the solar eclipse unfold. NASA TV and many other TV and streaming stations will air the “Eclipse Megacast,” which can be viewed by “hundreds of millions worldwide.”
Are you excited to see the 2017 solar eclipse come August 21? Don’t forget to tune in via NASA’s official live stream page here.
[Featured Image by Irmansyah/AP Images]