Space Station Aurora Images Make Earth Look Otherworldly
Crews staying on board the International Space Station (ISS) enjoy a unique view of the earth day and night. The seven-window Cupola observatory module of the revolving outpost offers astronauts the best vantage point on our planet and beyond.
The station’s current Expedition 64 crew recently released several stunning photos (below) of aurors captured from the dome as the space station orbited Earth more than 250 miles.
Aurors occur when particles from solar storms interact with gases in our atmosphere. The collisions can cause stunning displays of swirling, colorful light over the surface of the earth. For Earth residents who have little hope of ever visiting the space station (OK, that’s pretty much everyone on the planet), the best places to see the natural spectacle are near the Arctic Circle like Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland , Norway, Sweden and Finland in the northern hemisphere and the extreme south of Tasmania and New Zealand in the southern hemisphere.
NASA describes aurors as “a spectacular sign that our planet is electrically connected to the sun”.
Below: This aurora image was recently captured when the ISS orbited Earth 264 miles above the North Atlantic. The earth’s air glow, an optical phenomenon caused by cosmic rays hitting the upper atmosphere, can also be seen on the horizon.
Below: This view was taken as the space station passed over Kazakhstan and looked north toward Russia, with the nation’s brightly lit cities blanketed in an aurora.
Below: In a 263 mile orbit over Romania, the aurora can be seen well above the Earth’s horizon, with the lights of the city of Sweden and Finland also visible. The dark area between the two Scandinavian nations is the Baltic Sea.
Below: An aurora along with a starry night sky is pictured over Russia as the station circled 264 miles above the western Kazakh border.
Documentation recently posted on NASA’s YouTube channel also includes a sequence of views of aurors (below) captured from the space station. American astronaut Mike Fossum, who was lucky enough to witness the phenomenon of the ISS, says in the video: “When we flew into this amazing aurora, this babbling, pulsating green river that is below us, the red that is expanding up to our height … it’s like whoa! It was just breathtaking. “
Do you want to see more Current ISS crew member Soichi Noguchi has also pointed his camera straight down for some dazzling images of the earth.