European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this photograph taken from the International Space Station to social media on Aug. 29, 2014, writing, “words can’t describe how it feels flying through an aurora. I wouldn’t even know where to begin….”
Crewmembers on the space station photograph the Earth from their unique point of view located 200 miles above the surface. Photographs record how the planet is changing over time, from human-caused changes like urban growth and reservoir construction, to natural dynamic events such as hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions. Crewmembers have been photographing Earth from space since the early Mercury missions beginning in 1961. The continuous images taken from the space station ensure this record remains unbroken.
On Tuesday, Sept. 9 aboard the space station, cosmonaut Max Suraev of Roscosmos takes the helm when Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson hands over control during a Change of Command Ceremony at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Suraev will lead Expedition 41 and stay in orbit until November with Gerst and NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman. Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov, Swanson and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev will complete their mission Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 7:01 p.m. when they undock in their Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft from the Poisk docking compartment for a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan a little less than 3.5 hours later.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa spacecraft streaked across the sky like a saber of light through the clouds as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Woomera Test Range in Australia. In Kingoonya, the spacecraft’s re-entry was visible to the human eye for only 15 seconds. Image Credit: NASA/Ed Schilling
What’s happening above the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador? Quite a bit, from the looks of the above one-night, time-lapse movie, taken earlier this month. The majestic volcano is first seen through breaks in fast moving clouds as the movie begins. Soon the clouds have dissipated and a sky filled with stars seems to rotate about the snow-peaked volcano’s peak. The band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the dark Coal Sack nebula, and the Southern Cross can all be seen overhead. Satellites streak by from several directions. Soon thin clouds roll by and seem to make the brightest stars sparkle. On the volcano (starting at about 1:13 of the movie), the lights of climbers flash. Near the end of the movie, a bright airplane passes over the peak with a residual trail seen drifting away.