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Sony Alpha 7S II Makes It Into Space

Making it to space is usually a significant milestone for a camera maker. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that your camera–and not another one–has been selected as tough enough, capable enough, versatile enough to exist in the hostile conditions of space, even though it will be used inside the International Space Station (as for the Nikon DSLRs) or, in the case of the Sony Alpha 7S II, inside an outboard camera unit mounted on the outside of the KIBO Japanese Experimental Module (JEM) of the International Space Station (ISS).

What is remarkable with the Sony A7S II is that it is basically an out-of-the-box camera (with a FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS lens attached) with a few changes made to allow remote operation from the ground.

The outboard camera is set up so that it can be moved in 2 axes, which allows it to capture images of the Earth and space from different angles. Since it’s operated remotely from the ground, a firmware update allowed settings to be changed via operation commands. Likewise, the amount of zoom on the SELP28135G powered zoom lens can be controlled from the ground.

To protect it from the intense heat from the Sun, the camera with its lens is placed in the Camera Unit, an aluminum housing protected by cushioning materials, and maximizing the contact with this aluminum housing helps heat escape. A radiator helps deal with the heat and a heater with the cold of space. As it would be difficult to change the battery given its location, the camera is connected to an external power supply, and power can be switched on and off from the ground.

Tests showed that the camera didn’t malfunction or break due to cosmic radiation, that it could withstand the vibrations of lift-off and that it could not only tolerate the electrical or electromagnetic noise produced by the other equipment on the ISS, but that it would also operate without causing any electromagnetic interference to any other of the instruments aboard the JEM or ISS.

Read Immersive 4K Videos from Space Successfully Captured by α7S II.


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