"Space: the final frontier." These are the opening words of the classic episodes of the TV series “Star Trek.” The show features the countless adventures experienced by Captain Kirk and Spock in space in the year 2200. Binoculars from Carl Zeiss are already in space right now – on the International Space Station (ISS) to be exact.
The ISS has been under construction on a continuous basis 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. It will be operated by the space agencies of the USA, Russia, Canada and Japan until 2020 at least. The ISS has been continuously occupied by humans since 2 November 2000. In total, over 200 people have been in the space station, and around 80 of those stayed for extended periods.
As well as scientific experiments, the ISS also serves for earth observation. This area is under the management of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory in the NASA Johnson Space Center. Photos taken by astronauts are particularly important, as they supplement the images captured by earth observation satellites. After all, on the ISS, the camera angle is not fixed. For many years, the astronauts have been using ZEISS 20x60 T* S binoculars to find and select appropriate subjects.
What`s special about these binoculars is that they enable optimal observation at extremely long distances. At 20x magnification, blurring of the image under observation due to slight hand movements is unavoidable. However, the binoculars are fitted with an integrated mechanical image stabilizer with a cardanic flexural pivot. This feature means that the blurring can be evened out instantaneously at the touch of a button. Although the binoculars have been on the market since 1990, their optics and mechanics remain unique to this day. No wonder the astronauts on the ISS trust these binoculars and use them in space: where else can such astronomical distances be found?
December 12, 2012