Automated Imaging for Microgravity Science

ScanCam is an automated imaging system originally developed for CGBA. This system supports experiments that require very large volumes of image/video data taken at a high-frequency or over a long time period. Due to the limited amount of time available to ISS crew members to perform science work, an automated system like ScanCam is required.

ScanCam operates by automatically progressing through an imaging schedule in which the camera head is automatically positioned and then commanded to acquire images and/or video. Compression and downlink is automated allowing for near real-time monitoring of images as they are acquired. Because the system is automated, images can be acquired essentially 24/7.

ScanCam originally flew in 2014 on SpX-3 supporting the Micro-5 experiment investigating C. elegans. An updated version of ScanCam (ScanCam 2) is currently being developed for SABL.

Research Applications

  • Cell and tissue cultures
  • Microbiology
  • Small organisms
  • Chemical and material studies
  • Plant development
  • K-12 education experiments


  • Automated 4-axis positional control
  • Programmable imaging scheduling
  • 2560x1920 resolution
  • High-sensitivity sensor with controllable shutter modes
  • Camera connection over USB 2.0
  • Optional BioCell-derived imaging bracket with integrated LEDs