NHK sends 4K camera into space for comet shoot

The super-sensitive camera system, developed with Japanese space agency JAXA, is onboard the International Space Station to catch footage of the comet ISON, expected to pass close to Earth in December. (Pictured: NHK's Cosmic Shore)
August 9, 2013

Japanese public broadcaster NHK has collaborated with Japan’s space agency, JAXA, to develop a super-sensitive 4K camera system intended to catch footage of what’s being called “the comet of the century.”

The camera was loaded onto the International Space Station (ISS) last Sunday, with an aim towards capturing footage of the comet C/2012 S, otherwise known as ISON. The comet, discovered in September of 2012, will pass close to Earth in December and, with its status as a “sungrazer,” is expected to emit great quantities of dust and gas on its first approach to the sun. According to NASA, if the comet survives its journey to the sun, it could appear to glow as bright as the moon and be visible in broad daylight.

JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata will be aboard the ISS in December and will be manning the camera. NHK plans to broadcast the images in December, and via a release, the broadcaster says it anticipates “many breathtaking images, including pictures of the comet shining over the dazzling nightscape of the U.S. East Coast.”

This marks the first time that a 4K camera has been brought onboard the ISS. NHK and JAXA have collaborated on previous space shoots on board the space station, including 2006′s first HDTV broadcast from the site, and the use of a ultra-high sensitivity camera system in 2011 to capture meteor showers and auroras for the international copro Cosmic Shore.


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Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.