The learning portal “KEPLER ISS” deals with live videos of our Earth from the International Space Station (ISS). The aim of the project is to receive and archive images and videos of NASA’s experiment "High Definition Earth Viewing” (HDEV) and prepare them for school education. The project’s intention is to sustainably integrate the topic of remote sensing in school teaching.

The project KEPLER ISS is executed by the Department of Geography of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in cooperation with the University of Bonn and is funded by the German Aerospace Center DLR. KEPLER ISS as a successor of “Columbus Eye – Live Imagery from the ISS in Schools” offers an extensive learning portal comprising free-of-charge learning tools. They are based on an interactive learning approach making extensive use of digital media and immersive applications, such as augmented reality. School pupils are introduced to the world of remote sensing and digital image processing on the basis of specific scientific problems dealing with coupled human-environment systems. Concrete reference to the school subjects geography, biology, mathematics and computer science is set up.

Basic information

Country: Germany

Coordinator: Department of Geography of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Programme: National

Project Acronym:

Target groups: secondary school students, teachers

Topic: Biology, Earth science, Geography, Maths, Physics

Start year: 2014

End year: 2019


Contact person: Dr. Andreas Rienow, Email andreas.rienow (at)

A large variety of various passive and active satellite sensors producing panchromatic, multispectral or hyperspectral images of the Earth’s surface are currently in space and are used in different scientific fields, such as earth science, for example geography, hydrology, geology, oceanography and glaciology, disaster management, as well as for military, commercial and economic purposes. In contrast, video files are a rather exotic data format in the field of Earth observation. Occasionally, video cameras are used in airborne remote sensing, but only recently has video Earth observation from space been established. This project aims to integrate video data in the scientific workflow, revealing the advantages and disadvantages of moving images.

As the only available source for continuous video Earth observation data, the NASA experiment HDEV on board the International Space Station (ISS) is the basis for the project’s evaluation of the usability of video data. Following the rather coarse resolution of this data, KEPLER ISS exemplifies some potential fields of application in science and education. The project presents a basic workflow for producing 3D models and stereoscopic videos of the Earth’s surface. As a pre-study for videos with better spatial and radiometric resolution, the products delivered not only serve scientific purposes but are integrated in school lessons to inspire the pupils’ fascination for earth sciences and space.

The project’s teaching materials are divided into three different types: working sheets, observatory and learning modules.

All of the project’s working sheets are based on videos received from the International Space Station (ISS). Complex aspects are transferred in this way, such as “Rayleigh scattering”, a concept in physics, in an interactive manner. Besides the exercise sheets, the project’s zip-files contain background information as well as didactical commentaries. KEPLER ISS has also made two smartphone applications that make use of augmented realities to let pupils experience how astronauts see planet Earth.

The observatory deals with topics in geography that are based on interactive tools, which contain panoramic content from the ISS’s overflights of various regions on planet Earth, including the Sahara, South America and Canada. In addition to regional geography, pupils get active and create their own maps of the ISS image by using professional classification techniques.

The learning modules are based on ideas that were generated as part of the project “FIS – Remote Sensing in Schools”. They combine image analysis processing tools with technical exercises and interactive animations. School pupils develop topics of the curriculum by using methods in earth observation and dive into the world of data behind the fascinating images.


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