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Check Out This ‘Magical’ View of Space From the ISS

Check Out This ‘Magical’ View of Space From the ISS


Check Out This ‘Magical’ View of Space From the ISS 1

Most of the imagery captured from the International Space Station shows Earth 250 miles below.

But occasionally the cameras point the other way, focusing instead on the vastness of space and the stars that fill it (perhaps this proposed giant telescope will one day explore them).

Just a few days before returning to Earth after a six-month stay aboard the orbiting outpost, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet posted a gorgeous video (below) showing precisely this sight, though Earth and part of the station manage to squeeze in, too, to offer some perspective.

“One more night with this magical view,” Pesquet said in a message accompanying the video. “Who could complain? I’ll miss our spaceship!”

Une nuit de plus avec cette vue sur la Voie lactée, qui s'en plaindrait
🤩
One more night with this magical view. Who could complain? I’ll miss our spaceship!#MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/ePnTA2QLLg

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) November 7, 2021

Last week Pesquet also posted several shots — possibly image captures from the video above — showing the same stunning scenery.

🌌⭐💫✨🌟 When you let your eyes adapt to the night, you start seeing millions of stars and it’s amazing. It really feels like flying on a spaceship into the cosmos… of wait… that’s what we do 😉 #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/3TxqzOHxsx

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) November 3, 2021

In a message accompanying the photos in a post on Flickr, Pesquet said: “When you let your eyes adapt to the night, you start seeing millions of stars and it’s amazing.”

The astronaut, who is nearing the end of his second space voyage, added: “It really feels like flying on a spaceship into the cosmos … oh wait … that’s what we do 😉 You always tend to focus on Earth when you take pictures from the International Space Station, because it’s right there in front of you when you look out the window, in all its splendor and diversity, but there’s also a lot of beauty in the cosmos itself, it’s just harder to see (and to photograph) at first.”

Pesquet’s amazing Earth images have been dazzling his 1.3 million Twitter followers over the last six months, though despite the unique vantage point way above Earth, it’s harder than you might imagine to successfully capture such incredible photos.

We’ll certainly miss his impressive imagery, though hopefully one of the Crew-3 astronauts arriving at the space station this week will have an eye for a great shot, too.

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Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS

Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS

Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS 2

NASA astronauts regularly share beautiful images of Earth captured from space. However, a recent batch of photos captured from an even higher orbit than the International Space Station (ISS) provides an even more astonishing view of planet Earth.

As spotted by Digital Trends, the images shared from the world’s first entirely civilian space mission aboard SpaceX’s Inspiration4 earlier this month are nothing short of spectacular.

“When you look up at the sky, you dream about being among the stars. When you’re with the stars and look down, you dream about being back on the earth” said crew member Chris Sembroski

The team aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft have already shared a plethora of images from their time in orbit, however, this new batch of images is the first to be released that were taken with a professional camera system, allowing for a whole new level of detail and clarity to be seen. The images were captured through the new all-glass dome on the spacecraft while the Inspiration4 orbited the Earth at a height of 357 miles (575 kilometers), which places it about 100 miles farther from our planet than the ISS.

Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS 3

Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS 4

Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS 5

The glass dome provided the crew with a panoramic view of the planet, allowing for some rather incredible images to be captured during the time in orbit. SpaceX even posted a photo of Sembroski shooting some of the images through the dome.

Breathtaking Photos of Earth Were Taken From Even Higher Than the ISS 6
SpaceX

According to Jared Isaacman, the commander of the mission, the team has approximately 700 images captured with the crew’s Nikon DSLR system that will be shared over the coming weeks on the Inspiration4 Twitter account and Flickr.

For those interested in learning more about what it’s like to shoot photos from space, be sure to read a previous story with Chris Hadfield that features an inside look at the task.


Image credits: Photos by Inspiration4 crew via Creative Commons.

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Check Out These Cool Earth Images Taken From Higher Than ISS

Check Out These Cool Earth Images Taken From Higher Than ISS

We’re so often impressed by the amazing images of Earth captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but the latest photos to come to our attention were taken from an even higher orbit and therefore show our planet from a slightly different — and perhaps more beautiful — perspective.

The pictures were captured during the world’s first all-civilian space mission operated by SpaceX earlier this month.

While the four crewmembers have already shared lots of images and videos from their three days in orbit aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft, the latest images (below) to be shared were taken with a professional DSLR camera and therefore feature a new level of astonishing detail.

“When you look up at the sky, you dream about being among the stars. When you’re with the stars and look down, you dream about being back on the earth.” — @ChrisSembroski

More stunning photos from our #Inspiration4 crew’s three-day journey to orbit 🌎 pic.twitter.com/ppZhzNJkQI

— Inspiration4 (@inspiration4x) September 29, 2021

During the Inspiration4 mission, the crew orbited 357 miles above Earth (575 kilometers), a position about 100 miles further away from our planet than the ISS.

The four crew members were able to capture photos through the spacecraft’s new all-glass dome that afforded panoramic views of Earth and beyond.

An onboard camera captured crewmember Chris Sembroski pointing his camera out of the dome to grab a shot of the vista outside.

Chris Sembroski taking a photo from the Crew Dragon's cupola.
SpaceX

Jared Isaacman, the commander of the Inspiration4 mission, said they have about 700 photos to share that were taken with the crew’s professional Nikon camera, so we should be in for a real treat in the coming weeks as additional images appear online.

For more on the groundbreaking Inspiration4 mission, which was essentially SpaceX’s first space tourism endeavor, check out this Digital Trends feature showing the best bits from launch to landing.

And if you’d like a behind-the-scenes look at how ISS astronauts go about capturing their impressive Earth images, this article tells you all you need to know.

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Photographing Earth From the ISS is Not as Easy As You Might Think

Photographing Earth From the ISS is Not as Easy As You Might Think

Photographing Earth From the ISS is Not as Easy As You Might Think 7

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet has shared numerous beautiful photos of Earth taken from the International Space Station, but contrary to popular belief, making these photos isn’t as simple as just hanging out in the space station’s cupola.

As spotted by Digital Trends, Pesquet shared the image above along with a few words (in both French and English) about what goes into making the images he shares on his Flickr and Twitter regularly.

“Good planning for a picture is half the job, and for us it starts with our navigation software,” Pesquet writes. “It allows us to catalogue our targets (although I prepared many in advance before I left Earth).”

Pesquet says that the software he and the other astronauts have access to shows them where it is day and night on Earth and also provides them with cloud cover predictions. But most importantly, he says, it shows future orbits. As useful as this is, it’s not enough information for Pesquet to assure quality images.

“Many people think that we can take a picture of a specific place on Earth on command, but it is much harder than that. First of all our orbits mean we only fly over specific areas periodically. Secondly even if we do fly over an area of interest it might be during night-time so there will be nothing to see unless it is a city with bright streetlights. The lighting in the morning or evening is generally not good enough either (this is why some of the pictures have more pastel colors). Then there are clouds that can get in the way,” he explains.

“Lastly, and not the least, often we pass over areas… when we are working. We cannot drop everything we are doing at 14:35 for example just because we really want to take a picture of a city or a mountain or other marvel of Earth.”

One last thiing worth noting is even if the astronauts are aware of where they are currently orbiting and what should be below them, they still have to spot it from 250 miles above.

“Even if the stars align and we have the time, the orbits and the weather is in our favor… we still need to spot the target from 400 km above and setup the camera settings correctly!” Pesquet says.

For those curious, Pesquet uses a Nikon D5 for his photography, as shown in the EXIF data of the photos shared on Flickr, and a 70-200mm lens. Make sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Flickr for more photos captured from the orbiting space station.


Image credits: Header photo ESA/NASA

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How an ISS Astronaut Captures All Those Amazing Earth Photos

How an ISS Astronaut Captures All Those Amazing Earth Photos

The International Space Station (ISS) is about as good as it gets when it comes to aerial photography.

Astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the International Space Station's observation module.
Astronaut Thomas Pesquet in the International Space Station’s observation module. Thomas Pesquet

It’s no surprise, then, that many astronauts visiting the orbiting outpost quickly make a beeline for the Cupola, the space station’s seven-window observation module that offers mesmerizing views of Earth 250 miles below.

Current ISS inhabitant Thomas Pesquet has emerged as one of the most skillful shooters of the current crew, with the French astronaut regularly sharing breathtaking Earth images on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

But getting those incredible images isn’t simply a matter of peering out of the Cupola and hoping for the best.

It has been a while, but the blues of the #Bahamas and #KeyWest just never disappoint, seem to change hue on every pass over the area and brighten up our day every time we see them. Bask in the blue tones, and if you want more, there is a mapping too: 💙https://t.co/d4Pw9S4WDq pic.twitter.com/ZmEg6ccXWJ

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) September 21, 2021

Current astronauts usually use a Nikon D5 DSLR with a telephoto lens to photograph Earth, but as Pesquet pointed out in a recent online post, it actually takes a lot of preparation to increase the chances of capturing a great image.

“Good planning for a picture is half the job, and for us it starts with our navigation software,” said the astronaut, who arrived at the ISS in April. “The software shows us where it is day and night and even cloud cover predictions, but most importantly it shows us the future orbits.”

Pesquet said he also plans many of his images before he leaves Earth, saving himself time once he reaches the space station.

According to the astronaut, whose current mission ends in October 2021, many people “think that we can take a picture of a specific place on Earth on command, but it is much harder than that. First of all, our orbits mean we only fly over specific areas periodically. Secondly, even if we do fly over an area of interest, it might be during nighttime so there will be nothing to see unless it is a city with bright streetlights.”

Depuis l'espace #LosAngeles brille autant que les stars qui parcourent ses rues ✨ https://t.co/HMepv8zaPW

🎶City of stars, are you shining just for me?🎶 Los Angeles at night lights up like stars in the sky. https://t.co/HMepv8zaPW #MissionAlpha #BigPicture pic.twitter.com/CZ2t3Hcvar

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) September 18, 2021

The two biggest obstacles to capturing the desired shot are cloud cover and the work schedule, with ISS astronauts spending most of their time working on science experiments.

“Often we pass over areas when we are working.,” Pesquet explained. “We cannot drop everything we are doing at 14:35 for example just because we really want to take a picture of a city or a mountain or other marvel of Earth. Even if the stars align and we have the time [and] the orbits and the weather [are] in our favor, we still need to spot the target from 400 kilometers above and set up the camera settings correctly!”

Spring has not taken over all of the northern hemisphere – three examples in Asia where snow can still be found. ❄ #MissionAlpha https://t.co/LongHxMHsf pic.twitter.com/iEGQloFCiu

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) May 16, 2021

Just from the small number of images that we’ve posted on this page, it’s clear that Pesquet has an eye for a great photo, and that his careful preparation pays off.

Andes again. This area, between Peru, Chile, Bolivia, is an infinite source of magical shapes and striking colours. Do you prefer a burgundy red lake, or a neon blue amphitheatre? #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/VZhDr1id7q

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) September 19, 2021

For more of Pesquet’s stunning space-based photography, check out this collection of images that we showcased earlier this year.

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Surreal Earth Images From ISS Seem to Show Pac-Man Invasion

Surreal Earth Images From ISS Seem to Show Pac-Man Invasion


Surreal Earth Images From ISS Seem to Show Pac-Man Invasion 8

Astronauts peering out from the International Space Station (ISS)  are treated to an endless number of breathtaking views of Earth 250 miles below.

While most features are easily identifiable as cities, coastlines, or mountains, others appear otherworldly and somewhat mysterious.

Current ISS crew member Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, who regularly shares his efforts on his Twitter account, clearly has a keen eye for remarkable Earth images. His latest post, shared on Tuesday, definitely falls into the “mysterious” category. The three images show what Pesquet himself playfully describes as “peas in the desert, a Pacman invasion, or Earth’s record collection.”

But do you know what the extraordinary feature really is?

Des champs agricoles dans le désert : on dirait une collection de vinyles géants… ou alors c’est une invasion de Pacman ? 😨
.
A sight we see often while flying over 🌍: peas in the desert, a Pacman invasion, or Earth's record collection? #CropArt #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/N6rNWcqJa5

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) August 31, 2021

Pesquet leaves a clue in the tweet’s hashtags: #cropart. That’s right, the photos show circular crop fields that use what is known as “center-pivot irrigation.”

As the name suggests, center-pivot irrigation uses a sprinkler system that rotates around a central point, which over time creates the circular effect that you see here. The sprinkler previously turned using water power but electric motors are more widely used these days.

The system has been in use for decades, with a farmer in Strasburg, Colorado, believed to have invented the efficient system.

Looking at the scenery in Pesquet’s pictures, it seems likely that these ones are located in Saudi Arabia, though if you check out somewhere like Kansas using Google Earth, you’ll also see plenty of the circular fields dotting the state there, too.

NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, who’s also aboard the ISS, is another astronaut with a keen eye for photography. One of his most striking images, posted earlier this year, captures a beautifully baffling scene that looks more like Mars than Earth.

ISS astronauts capture most of their shots from the the Cupola observatory module that features seven windows for awesome views of Earth and beyond. They can choose from a range of professional DSLR camera bodies and lenses, with most of the kit made by Nikon.

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Timelapse Shows How Astronauts Install New Solar Arrays on the ISS

Timelapse Shows How Astronauts Install New Solar Arrays on the ISS

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide has captured an incredible timelapse video of fellow astronauts Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Shane Kimbrough of NASA spacewalking outside of the International Space Station (ISS) “Alpha” while installing a new solar array.

“These arrays, called IROSA for ISS Roll-Out Solar Array, had to be taken from their storage area outside the Space Station and passed from spacewalker to spacewalker to the worksite. There the rolled arrays were to be secured, unfolded, connected, and then unfurled. During the spacewalk, a small technical problem in Shane’s spacesuit required him to return to the airlock and restart his Display and Control Module,” the ESA says.

“This module provides astronauts with continuous information on pressure, temperature, and other vital data during a spacewalk. Though the restart was successful and Shane was in no danger, it delayed the duo’s work, preventing them from completing the installation of the first new solar array as planned. A second spacewalk was done on 20 June to finish installing the first solar array.”

The video above shows scenes from the June 16 spacewalk with Pesquet — who has previously shared some stellar photos taken from space, such as one series that focuses on the waters of Earth and another that excellently visualizes how fast the station moves — attached to the robotic arm and NASA astronaut Megan McArthur at the controls.

“We have to do EVAs, but someone has to keep running the Space Station while we are preparing, spacewalking, reconfiguring, preparing again,” Pesquet wrote along with a video posted to social media. “Aki has been rock solid taking care of the spaceship pretty much by himself, performing all the maintenance and the science experiments, and on top of that he found the time to take timelapses of our little walks outside. The man is a machine!”

A second video posted a few days later shows Pesquet and Kimbrough on their fourth spacewalk together to complete the installation of the first new solar array and to prepare work for the second unit. This video shows the team unfolding the arrays that were rolled into tubes for transport, aligning them, and connecting the data cables as well as securing them to the mounting brackets.

Over 200 experiments are planned during Pesquet’s time on the ISS, with 40 planned by the ESA and 12 new experiments led by the French space agency CNES

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Check Out This Gorgeous Earth Image Shot From the ISS

Check Out This Gorgeous Earth Image Shot From the ISS

Check Out This Gorgeous Earth Image Shot From the ISS 9
ESA / Thomas Pesquet

A space station astronaut has captured a striking photo of Earth showing only water.

Posting the image on Twitter, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet described the scene as “our blue marble,” a nod to the famous image of Earth taken by the Apollo 17 crew in 1972.

Pesquet added: “Sometimes, there’s just no land in sight, even from our 400-km [250-mile] crow’s nest. I think of all the sailors and explorers who traveled the world on solitary expeditions.”

🌎 Our blue marble. Sometimes, there's just no land in sight, even from our 400 km crow's nest. I think of all the sailors and explorers who traveled the world on solitary expeditions ⛵️ #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/sQ0F33DEZm

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) May 26, 2021

As the French astronaut suggests, most images shot from the International Space Station Earth usually contain at least a little bit of land. But Pesquet’s impressive picture is a reminder that our planet actually comprises mostly ocean, with water covering about 70% of its surface.

ISS photography

The ISS crew is constantly changing, with most missions lasting about six months. Among each new crew, a keen photographer often emerges, with Pesquet clearly possessing an eye for an amazing shot.

We recently showcased some of his best Earth pictures snapped in the weeks since his arrival on the space station in April 2021, his second visit to date. Among the last ISS crew, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi revealed himself as a keen Earth observer, regularly sharing his own amazing pictures of our planet.

For the best views, space station astronauts usually head to the Cupola, a seven-window module that was attached to the ISS in 2010, 10 years after the station went into operation.

Pesquet and other crew members have a wide range of advanced cameras and lenses to choose from, including top models made by the likes of Nikon and Sony.

To find out more about life on the space station, take a look at these videos recorded by astronauts who’ve visited the orbiting outpost over the years.

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Photographer Catches the ISS Crossing the Sun and Moon

Photographer Catches the ISS Crossing the Sun and Moon

Photographer Catches the ISS Crossing the Sun and Moon 10

Photographer Andrew McCarthy is known for shooting incredible astrophotography images from his backyard in Sacramento, California. He recently added two more jaw-dropping images to his portfolio: ultra-clear views of the International Space Station (ISS) crossing the Sun and Moon.

Given that the ISS whizzes across the Sun and Moon in less than a second from the perspective of someone on Earth, capturing a clear view of the transit is not an easy thing to do.

McCarthy first managed to capture the ISS transiting the Sun on Tuesday, October 6th.

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“This shot was captured simultaneously with two scopes, one with a white light filter for ISS details and one with a hydrogen-alpha solar telescope for surface details,” McCarthy writes. “By blending the images together I get a crisp, detailed snapshot of the transit.”

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A closer look at McCarthy’s photo of the ISS transiting the Sun.

The following week, on the morning of October 14th, McCarthy captured the ISS crossing the face of the Moon.

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“[A]fter spending hours scouting for the right location, I set up my gear on the side of a road hoping to capture something I’ve never seen before. The ISS, illuminated by daylight, transiting a razor-thin crescent moon,” McCarthy writes. “Something about the way the illuminated ISS straddles the crescent gives it a sense of depth lacking in my previous transit shots.

“This was captured by recording high framerate video during the pass, and stitching together a full mosaic of the moon after the pass was completed, which was then blended with shots captured before the sun rose to get the ‘Earthshine’ you see on the dark side of the moon.”

Photographer Catches the ISS Crossing the Sun and Moon 22
A closer look at McCarthy’s photo of the ISS transiting the Moon.

You can find more of McCarthy’s work on his popular Instagram. You can also buy fine art prints of his work and receive other perks (including full writeups about how photos were made) by supporting him through Patreon.


Update: The title of this article originally stated that both of these photos were captured in McCarthy’s backyard. The Moon photo was actually captured from a street.


Image credits: Photographs by Andrew McCarthy and used with permission

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Estee Lauder Pays NASA $128,000 for Photo Shoot on the ISS

Estee Lauder Pays NASA $128,000 for Photo Shoot on the ISS

Estee Lauder Pays NASA $128,000 for Photo Shoot on the ISS 25

The cosmetics giant Estee Lauder is paying NASA $128,000 for a product photography shoot onboard the International Space Station.

Bloomberg reports that the company will be paying the space agency to fly 10 bottles of its Advanced Night Repair skin serum to the orbiting space station on a cargo run that will launch from Virginia on Tuesday and dock on Saturday.

Once the product is on board, astronauts will be tasked with shooting product photos of the serum floating in the cupola module, which has sweeping panoramic views of Earth and space.

NASA charges a “professional fee” of $17,500 per hour for the astronauts’ time.

Estee Lauder says it plans to use the resulting photos on social media, where it will see quite a bit of reach — roughly 4 million people follow the brand on Instagram alone. One of the bottles will also be auctioned for charity after it turns from its jaunt in space come spring.

NASA announced in June 2019 that it was opening the ISS up to both space tourists and commercial activities “so U.S. industry innovation and ingenuity can accelerate a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.” Estee Lauder’s upcoming photo shoot will be the second commercial product to launch as part of the new push.

“We are thrilled to reinforce our leadership once again as the first beauty brand to go into space,” says Estee Lauder Group President Stéphane de La Faverie.


Image credits: Header illustration created with photos by Estee Lauder and Don Pettit/NASA

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