An experimental camera on the European Space Agency's Proba-2 microsatellite captured a view of Hurricane Isaac as it moved west of the Florida coast into the Gulf of Mexico on Monday.
Capturing images in the visible and near-infrared with a 100 degree field of view, the monochrome X-Cam is housed on the underside of the microsatellite. Less than a cubic meter in size, Proba-2's main mission focuses on observing the Sun and space weather.
The instrument was designed by Swiss company Micro-Cameras & Space Exploration (Neuchatel, Switzerland), the latest in a series of miniature cameras built by the company for ESA missions such as Proba-2 and SMART-1.
Another such camera on Rosetta -- now cruising through deep space -- should provide the first views from the surface of a comet in 2014.
In the future, similar compact imagers could be used to examine the surfaces of satellites to detect whether or not they are damaged.
-- Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design