ISS Utilization: Sample imagery
ISS Utilization: Sample imagery taken by astronauts on and from the ISS + Events
This file is a loose collection of some imagery samples taken by astronauts off and from the ISS (International Space Station). Astronauts who experience Earth from orbit often report feelings of awe and wonder, of being transformed by what they describe as the magic such a perspective brings. This phenomenon is called the ”overview effect.” The short descriptions in the following entries are presented in reverse order .
Note: As of February 29, 2020, the previously large ISS-Imagery2 and ISS-Imagery files have been split into five files, to make the file handling manageable for all parties concerned, in particular for the user community.
• This article covers the ISS-Imagery plus some status in the period 2021
Mission status and sample imagery of 2021
• September 14, 2021: Two ISS crew members have had their stay onboard the orbiting lab extended to nearly a year. Meanwhile, space biology and life support maintenance kept the Expedition 65 crew busy on Tuesday. 1)
- With the plans for Russian spaceflight participants to visit the space station as part of the Soyuz MS-19 crew in October 2021, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov will remain aboard the station until March 2022. Upon return to Earth, Vande Hei will hold the record for longest single spaceflight for an American.
Figure 1: NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei on setting the record for longest single spaceflight for an American. With the plans for Russian spaceflight participants to visit the International Space Station as part of the MS-19 Soyuz crew in October 2021, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov will remain aboard the station until March 2022. Upon return to Earth, Mark Vande Hei will hold the record for longest single spaceflight for an American. Vande Hei talked about his mission extension and impending spaceflight record during an interview from the International Space Station. - A potential benefit to this extension is NASA gaining deeper insight into how the human body adapts to life in microgravity for longer periods of time. This research helps prepare for Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually long-duration missions to Mars, as well as provides critical opportunities for additional research to be conducted aboard the station that can benefit life on Earth (video credit: NASA/JSC)
- A potential benefit to this extension is NASA gaining deeper insight into how the human body adapts to life in microgravity for longer periods of time. This research helps prepare for Artemis missions to the Moon and eventually long-duration missions to Mars, as well as provides critical opportunities for additional research to be conducted aboard the station that can benefit life on Earth.
- Rodents living on the station will soon be studied to understand how microgravity affects a variety of biological systems and processes. NASA Flight Engineers Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough began their day Tuesday training for the Rodent Research-1 Demonstration (RR-D1) experiment that will take place inside the Kibo laboratory module.
- Afterward, Commander Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency joined Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and took their turn studying for the upcoming RR-D1 study. The rodents will live in JAXA’s Mouse Habitat Unit and the experiment will be housed inside Kibo’s Life Science Glovebox. The biology study specifically aims to understand how weightlessness impacts normal skin function and wound healing.
- Vande Hei, with assistance from Kimbrough, removed support components today that kept a new carbon dioxide (CO2) scrubber attached to the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spaceship during its flight to the station last month. The device that cleans the station’s atmosphere of CO2 will soon be installed in the U.S. Destiny laboratory module.
- Dubrov and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy are still reconfiguring the station’s Russian segment following their two spacewalks on Sept. 3 and Sept. 9. The duo also took turns wearing heart monitoring gear. Dubrov then began setting up a laptop computer and a European robotic arm controller inside the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
• September 14, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (left) and JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide (right) performed a spacewalk on Sunday 12 September to prepare another section of the International Space Station for its solar panel upgrade. 2)
- The new solar arrays, called IROSA (ISS Roll-Out Solar Array), are being gradually installed over the existing arrays to boost the International Space Station’s power system.
- Thomas and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough prepared and installed two IROSA solar panels across three spacewalks in June. The arrays were taken from their storage area outside the Space Station and passed from spacewalker to spacewalker to the worksite. There the rolled arrays were secured, unfolded, connected and then unfurled.
- Aki and Thomas prepared the P4 truss for its IROSA installation. This is the same area as where Thomas and Shane installed two IROSA’s but closer to the main body of the Space Station, in an area called the 4A channel. Only one new solar array will be installed here, on a later spacewalk.
- While Sunday’s extravehicular activity or EVA was already the fourth spacewalk during Thomas’ Alpha mission, it was his first with Aki and the first time a spacewalking pair did not feature a US or Russian astronaut.
- Aki and Thomas made good time preparing the 4A channel for the next IROSA and were able to complete a second task to replace a floating potential measurement unit that was faulty. This unit measures the difference between the Space Station’s conductive structures and the atmospheric plasma.
- Thomas and Aki completed their spacewalk in six hours and 54 minutes, which hands Thomas the ESA record for longest time spent spacewalking. — How did he celebrate? With ice cream!
- Thomas reminds us that, “Spacewalks last seven hours and are like top sport, so we need the calories afterwards!”
Figure 2: As this image shows, the International Space Station is a huge, complex spacecraft. Built by international partners and in operation for over 20 years now, the only human outpost in space (so far!) is a sight to behold and requires spacewalks to maintain. - But as Thomas notes, fixing up the Space Station is not just a maintenance job, it is also “improving the station and what it stands for.” (image credit: NASA)
• September 13, 2021: Long shadows creep across Ulaagchinii Khar Nuur in this sunrise photo taken from the International Space Station by an astronaut. The shadows accentuate the topography in and around the lake, including the Big and Small Avgash Islands. Cracks permeate the ice-covered surface of the lake, and dunes skirt the shore. The cold, flat ice surface contrasts with the distinctive, rolling waves of sand dunes. While typically associated with hot climates, dunes can form in all deserts, including the cold steppe of western Mongolia. 3)
- Though located in Mongolia’s Great Lakes Depression, the water surface of Khar Nuur Lake is still more than 1900 meters (6,400 feet) above sea level. Due to the high altitude and location, temperatures in the freshwater lake dip below freezing for most of the winter months. Situated in central Asia between China and Russia, Mongolia sits in the subarctic zone where cold air from Siberia extends winter climate patterns well into April.
- Khar Nuur is within the Ulaagchinii Khar National Park, which is part of the Eurasian Steppe that stretches from eastern Europe almost to the Pacific Ocean. Steppe regions are home to many vulnerable animals, including a variety of threatened bird species protected within Ulaagchinii Khar.
Figure 3: The astronaut photograph ISS065-E-23018 was acquired on May 6, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 1150 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 65 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Alex Stoken)
• September 12, 2021: Astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) have concluded the first spacewalk conducted by two international partner astronauts out of the International Space Station’s Quest airlock at 3:09 p.m. EDT, after 6 hours and 54 minutes. 4)
- Hoshide and Pesquet successfully assembled and attached a support bracket in preparation for future installation of the orbiting laboratory’s third new solar array. NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays to ensure a sufficient power supply is maintained for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond as well as utilization and commercialization.
Figure 4: Spacewalker Akihiko Hoshide works on the station’s Port-4 truss structure installing a modification kit and preparing it for a future Roll-Out Solar Array. Credit: NASA TV (image credit: NASA TV)
- The crew also replaced a device that measures the electrical charging potential of the arrays and associated surfaces in its vicinity, called a floating point measurement unit, on a separate truss section. The new device was powered on successfully.
- This was the fourth spacewalk for Hoshide, the sixth for Pesquet, and the 12th spacewalk this year. Hoshide has now spent a total of 28 hours and 17 minutes spacewalking, and Pesquet’s total spacewalking time is 39 hours and 54 minutes. Space station crew members have now spent a total of 64 days, 5 hours, and 54 minutes working outside the station conducting 244 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory.
- In November 2020, the International Space Station surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique research and technological demonstrations that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars and also improve life on Earth. In that time, 244 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.
• September 9, 2021: A smoke alarm sounded Thursday in Russia's segment of the International Space Station (ISS) and astronauts smelled "burning" on board, Russia's space agency and NASA said. 5)
- The incident, which the Russian space agency Roscosmos said happened at 01:55 GMT ahead of a scheduled spacewalk, is the latest in a string of problems to spur safety concerns over conditions on the Russian segment.
- "A smoke detector was triggered in the Zvezda service module of the Russian segment of the International Space Station during automatic battery charging, and an alarm went off," Roscosmos said in a statement.
- French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said "the smell of burning plastic or electronic equipment" wafted to the US segment of the station, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing a NASA broadcast.
- The Russian crew turned on a filter and after the air was cleaned up the astronauts went back to sleep, Roscosmos said.
- The space agency said that a planned spacewalk would go ahead as scheduled.
- Russia's Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov are scheduled to leave the station to continue work on the Nauka science module that docked in July.
- "All systems are operating normally," Roscosmos said.
- The Russian segment of the ISS has experienced several problems recently and a space official warned last month that out of date software could lead to "irreparable failures".
- The Zvezda service module, part of the Russian segment, has experienced several air leaks, including earlier this year and in 2019.
- Citing concerns stemming from ageing hardware, Russia has previously indicated that it plans to leave the ISS after 2025 and launch its own orbital station.
- In July, the entire ISS tilted out of orbit after the thrusters of the Nauka module reignited several hours after docking.
• August 29, 2021: Thirty-six years ago, an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery focused a camera lens on South America’s Paraná River. This southward-looking panorama shows the point where the Paraná flows into northern Argentina, then bends south, and finally reaches the Atlantic Ocean at the River Plate estuary (top left). For scale, the distance from Asunción, the Paraguayan capital, to the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires is more than 1000 km (600 miles). 6)
- This photo shows a very large ‘inland delta’ where the Paraná River has spread out laterally to form a huge, triangular surface (outlined in gray) that measures 425 km (265 miles) from the apex to the most distant point near La Paz. The entire surface of the delta—known to geologists as a megafan—is covered by numerous channels showing where the Paraná used to flow. The channels can be seen radiating across the delta from the apex.
- At the time, views like this were surprising to geologists, who had thought megafans were few and far between on Earth’s surface. (Fewer than a dozen were known at the time.) Orbital images such as this spurred research to identify the largest megafans, defined as being greater than 80 km (50 miles) long. The tally now stands at nearly 300 megafans worldwide.
- Megafans can spread across vast areas, especially where they coalesce in major river valleys such as the Paraná. There are many other megafans in South America, but the combined area of just the three megafans in Figure 5 is 376,000 km2 (145,200 square miles), almost equal to the land area of Japan.
- Megafans are being adapted for agriculture at an ever increasing rate. Their flat landscapes are ideal for developing transport and irrigation infrastructure. Being composed of softer river sediments, they are also relatively easy to plow.
Figure 5: Though 36 years old, this photo remains one of the best for demonstrating vast inland delta landscapes. The photo was taken with a Hasselblad film camera—common in the days before astronauts switched to digital cameras—and before wide views were easily obtainable from the International Space Station. It remains one of the best images to demonstrate megafan landscapes. Two other megafans are partly visible: the lower 100 km (60 miles) of the Pilcomayo and Bermejo megafans. The Pilcomayo megafan is the largest on the planet at 705 km in length (image credit: The astronaut photograph STS51D-46-22 was acquired on April 18, 1985, with a Hasselblad film camera using a focal length of 100 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the STS-51D crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Justin Wilkinson)
• August 23, 2021: Months before the world turned its eye toward Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics, an astronaut on the International Space Station captured this image of the Japanese megacity. The photograph offers a distinctive, high-resolution view of the city’s structure via its nighttime light. 7)
- Many cities are oriented around a center. In most modern cities, this is a bright downtown. In Tokyo, it’s the Imperial Palace. Strings of light emanate from the palace and follow Tokyo’s major expressway system outward. The brightest points indicate clusters of large buildings in several downtown areas. Major sports venues—like the Olympic Stadium and horse racing tracks—also leave subtle marks on the Tokyo nightscape.
- In a city so well illuminated, the dark areas stand out as much as the bright. As Tokyo’s population pushes past 40 million, the city is reaching geographic limits on outward growth. Naturally bounded by Tokyo Bay to the east and mountains to the west, darker areas farther from the city center are often designated parks. The park system of Tokyo is extensive, covering 36 percent of the total land area in the prefecture.
- The other negative space in the photo is Tokyo Bay and the major rivers (the Sumida, Tama, and Edo) that run through the city and into the bay. The only interruption to the darkness of the bay is the small points of light caused by ships traveling to and from Tokyo’s busy docks. The sharp, angular nature of the docks contrasts with the winding of the rivers and highlights their human-made origin.
Figure 6: Strings of light emanate from the Imperial Palace in the city’s center and follow the expressway system outward. The astronaut photograph ISS064-E-15098 was acquired on December 23, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 400 mm focal length and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, Caption by Alex Stoken)
• August 18, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is spending six months on the International Space Station as part of his second mission Alpha. In his free time, like many astronauts, he enjoys looking out of the Cupola windows at Earth. This collage is made up of 58 images digitally mapped, rotated and assembled to provide a highly detailed overview of Venice, Italy, and the Venetian Lagoon. 8)
Figure 7: Thomas shared this image on his social channels with the caption: "Venice. Italy’s floating city and one of the world’s most iconic. Most of us know it for its watery canals, bridges and melodic gondoliers but the unsung heroes of Venice are actually thick wooden planks. That's not an insult by the way, when the city was established, stakes of alder wood from nearby forests were driven deep into the lagoon to support construction. Salt water and a lack of air hardened and protected this wood from damage and rot and most of the city's buildings still rely on these clever historic foundations. Now one of the biggest challenges Venice faces (aside from climate change, which is huge) is human movement stirring up the water. Earlier this month, a ban on large vessels came into force, stopping cruise ships from entering the lagoon and hopefully helping to sustain this UNESCO site for the future." (Image credit: ESA-T. Pesquet)
• August 15, 2021: This expansive view of the River Thames flowing eastward through the London metropolitan area is a mosaic of 29 overlapping photographs taken by an astronaut looking down from the International Space Station (ISS). A detailed view of London at this scale is seldom achieved from the ISS due to frequently cloudy conditions. 9)
- Recorded history along the Thames dates back to around 50 CE, when the Roman Empire invaded the region and established the settlement of Londinium on the north bank of the river. Londinium became the core financial area as the location was ideal for trade. Invasions, plagues, and fire have since shaped this area over the past several centuries.
Figure 8: The Greater London area is comprised of 32 boroughs, most of which are visible in this photo on both sides of the river. The original city of London continues to be the epicenter of finance and business. Westminster is the center of politics and governance, a borough that includes the Houses of Parliament, the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street, and Buckingham Palace. The astronaut photographs ISS065-E-95234 through ISS065-E-95272 were acquired on June 9, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 1150 mm. They are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The images were taken by a member of the Expedition 65 crew. The images have been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
- Sections of the Thames have different historical and cultural significance. One of the most notable is the difference between the east and west ends. Since the river flows east toward the North Sea, most of the shipping and heavy industrial districts developed downstream in the East End where the river is deeper. The West End contains more open spaces with parks and royal palaces.
- Bridges are prevalent along the Thames, clustered near London and Westminster. The first “London Bridge” was built by the Romans, and many more were added to the landscape over time. Major landmarks in the mosaic include Wembley Stadium, Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park, Hyde Park, London Stadium (the 2012 Olympic venue), The O2, Greenwich Park, and the London City Airport.
Figure 9: Detail image of London (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)
• August 13, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet took this picture of the Soyuz and the MLM (Multi-purpose Laboratory Module) Nauka of Roscosmos orbiting over Earth during an aurora show from the International Space Station. 10)
Figure 10: Thomas shared this image on his social media channels with the caption: "Space weather is actually a real thing! Amongst others ESA can predict when aurora are more likely to occur. Space weather is important as it predicts solar events and their effects on satellite orbits and space operations. Just like with normal weather we cannot change it, but we can prepare for outbursts of space weather." (image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet)
• August 10, 2021: The International Space Station Expedition 65 crew recorded themselves on a day off after a long week of work having some weightless fun. From Earth orbit, 400 km above our planet, the crew present the very first Space Olympics. 11)
Figure 11: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet shared this video on social media with the caption: “The first ever Space Olympics ! A Saturday afternoon on the International Space Station. Four disciplines. Rules that evolved as we played. Seven athletes. Four nations. Two teams. Crew cohesion and morale boosted like never before. The first Space Olympics saw Team Crew Dragon and Team Soyuz compete in lack-of-floor-routine, no-handball, synchronized space swimming and weightless sharpshooting.”(video credit: ESA/NASA)
- Over 200 experiments are planned during Thomas’ time in space, with 40 European ones and 12 new experiments led by the French space agency CNES. Throughout Mission Alpha Thomas is highlighting the parallels between being an astronaut and an athlete: both need to perform at key moments, and train hard to be at their best. Thomas has often said that sport taught him the values of team spirit and respecting team mates, and no astronaut is an island – if one profession is an example of teamwork it is being an astronaut. It takes a team to ensure they are at their best.
- The Muddy and Virgin Rivers cut through the desert to deliver water to Lake Mead reservoir. The Muddy River flows through Moapa Valley, where it is bordered by agricultural fields and towns. The nearby Virgin River, by contrast, is bordered by dark vegetated areas and lacks urban structures. Both rivers empty into the Overton Arm, the northern part of Lake Mead that eventually merges with the Colorado River to the south.
- Red-orange rock exposures near the center of the photo mark the Valley of Fire State Park, located approximately 40 miles (60 km) to the northeast of Las Vegas. At sunset, valley outcrops made of bright, rust-colored Aztec sandstone appear to be on fire, which led early European explorers to give the area its colorful name. This sandstone here formed from ancient sand dune fields that covered the area during the Jurassic Period. The slab was subsequently faulted and uplifted by tectonic forces, and then eroded by water and wind into the current landscape.
- Significant archaeological artifacts have been found throughout Moapa Valley, with some dating back to 300 BCE. Among the finds are ancient petroglyphs (not visible in this photo) etched into the sandstone. Anasazi Native Americans occupied the area during that time, hunting, gathering, and building pueblo villages. The discovery of pit houses, pueblo walls, and other ancient cultural artifacts in what was to become Lake Mead caused people to dub the area “the Lost City.” At the top of this photograph, the southern part of the Moapa River Indian Reservation is visible.
Figure 12: When the Sun sets, outcrops made of bright, rust-colored Aztec sandstone appear to be on fire. This astronaut photograph ISS062-E-55262 was acquired on February 25, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 62 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Sara Schmidt)
• August 1, 2021: An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photo while orbiting over Thailand and Malaysia. This region of the world is not often photographed from space due to persistent clouds. While still cloudy, this view offers a rare peek at both coasts of the Malay Peninsula. 13)
- This photo was taken near the end of Malaysia’s northeast monsoon season (November to March). The oblique and panoramic view shows thin clouds and possibly small smoke plumes being blown from the northeast—typical of wind patterns for this time of year. Malaysia experiences a second monsoon season from May to September each year.
- The Isthmus of Kra, at 70 km (45 miles) wide, is the narrowest part of the peninsula that separates the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Looking toward Earth’s limb, mainland Thailand is hardly distinguishable through the atmospheric haze, due in part to Southeast Asia’s burning season. On the day this photo was taken, hundreds of fires were detected in the region by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite.
Figure 13: Two monsoon seasons make space views of this area rare. This astronaut photograph ISS064-E-37124 was acquired on February 23, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 50 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrea Wenzel)
• July 26, 2021: This photo captures an astronaut’s view of Fogo, an island 600 kilometers (400 miles) off the coast of West Africa. The name Fogo translates from Portuguese to English as “fire.” The name epitomizes the volatile nature of the Cabo Verde (or Cape Verde) volcanic islands. 14)
- Pico de Fogo is the highest peak in Cabo Verde, towering 2829 meters (9,280 feet) above sea level. It is also the highest peak in West Africa. Pico de Fogo is the active cone at the summit of the Fogo stratovolcano that forms the island. As seen from the International Space Station, the semicircle of surrounding cliffs marks the edge of the Cha das Caldeiras summit caldera. Research by geologists shows that the entire east side of Fogo volcano slid into the sea in a process known as lateral collapse. That event, now known as the Monte Amarelo landslide, formed the caldera approximately 80,000 years ago.
- Scientists using subsea backscatter sonar techniques have been able to identify the landslide rubble on the seafloor offshore of the east side of the island. So much material slid off the volcano flank that the debris field covers an area larger than the area of Fogo Island itself. Landslides are common on active volcanic islands—such as Fogo and the Hawaiian islands—as the repeated burial of unconsolidated rock debris by subsequent eruptions can create fault zones. Acidic solutions can also form from volcanic gases; these can alter rock-forming minerals to clay minerals, leading to weaker rock masses.
- Read more about the 2014 eruption at Fogo.
Figure 14: The astronaut photograph ISS063-E-54142 was acquired on July 23, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 63 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Amber Turner)
• July 23, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is spending six months on the International Space Station as part of his second mission Alpha. In his free time, like many astronauts, he enjoys looking out of the Cupola windows at Earth.
Figure 15: This collage of pictures shows Lago di Garda in Italy, made from many pictures mapped together, digitally rotated and assembled into this large collage of 17584 by 26257 pixels. Thomas asked to have the series of highly zoomed-in pictures aligned into this collage to show the area in detail. The International Space Station flies at roughly 400 km altitude so Thomas uses the longest lenses available onboard (image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet/W. Harold)
• July 21, 2021: Crew Dragon Endeavour with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide,and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, have re-docked to the International Space Station. 15)
- Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:45 a.m. and relocated to the space-facing port at 7:35 a.m. completing the second space station port change for the crewed spacecraft.
- Next up for commercial crew, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station about one day following its launch at 2:53 p.m. Friday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The uncrewed flight test, NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data about Boeing’s crew transportation system, and help NASA certify Starliner and the Atlas V rocket for regular flights with astronauts to and from the space station.
- The Crew-2 astronauts are targeted to return to Earth in early-to-mid November following a short handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts targeted to launch on Sunday, Oct. 31.
Figure 16: The SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon is pictured after maneuvering to the Harmony module’s space-facing international docking adapter (image credit: NASA TV)
• July 18, 2021: Sand dunes, ancient rocks, a solar power plant, and the Orange River stand out in this image of the southern Kalahari Desert taken by a camera system on the International Space Station. 16)
- The dark line of South Africa’s largest river, the Orange, winds across farm-covered floodplains toward the Atlantic Ocean. Populations are small in this desert region. The small farming town of Groblershoop is barely visible compared to the local main roads, which show up as white lines etched across the landscape.
- The strong orange color in this image is mostly due to geologically young dunes (only a few million years old) in what is known locally as the Duineveld (dune country). Poking up through the sands are sinuous hills made up of very ancient, dark-toned rocks. These rocks were folded and faulted around one billion years ago by mountain-building forces similar to those currently raising the Himalayas. The ancient mountains were later planed off by erosion over millions of years to form the dune-covered plains and low hills we see today.
- Alongside one of the main roads lies a small, bright rectangular shape: This is the Bokpoort solar power plant. It was constructed specifically to take advantage of the high number of sunny days in the Kalahari Desert. The plant includes nearly 240,000 mirrors covering 0.65 km2 (about 0.25 square miles). Unlike the photovoltaic solar panels at many traditional installations, this power plant uses mirrors to focus the Sun’s energy on a large salt-filled storage tank (too small to see in this image). The focused sunlight melts the salt, which has a high heat storage capacity. This heat in turn drives steam turbines that can generate power long after sunset. This renewable-energy plant came online in 2015.
Figure 17: This EarthKAM photograph 313841 was acquired on November 15, 2020, with a Nikon D2X DSLR digital camera using a 180 millimeter lens. The photo has been enhanced to improve contrast. It is provided by the Sally Ride EarthKAM@Space Camp on the International Space Station. The caption is provided by the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center. EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) is a NASA educational outreach program that enables students, teachers, and the public to learn about Earth from the unique perspective of space. During Sally Ride EarthKAM missions, middle school students around the world request images of specific locations on Earth (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by M. Justin Wilkinson)
• July 14, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is spending six months on the International Space Station as part of his second mission Alpha. In his free time, like many astronauts, he enjoys looking out of the Cupola windows at Earth. This collage of pictures shows Paris, France, made from many pictures mapped together, digitally rotated and assembled into this large collage of 21211 by 20289 pixels.
Figure 18: Paris as observed from the ISS by ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Thomas asked to have the series of highly zoomed-in pictures aligned into this collage to show the area in detail (image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet/W. Harold)
• July 12, 2021: While in orbit over central Sudan, an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph featuring Lake Tana and the Ethiopian Highlands. The oblique angle and shadows help emphasize the rugged terrain of the Ethiopian Plateau, while Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, appears mirror-like due to sunglint. The low-lying, tectonically active East African Rift Valley is bounded by the eastern edge of the Ethiopian Highlands. 17)
- The Semien (or Simien) Mountains tower over the plateau. With a peak rising 4,533 meters (14,926 feet) above sea level, Ras Dashen is the highest point in Ethiopia. Much of the Ethiopian Highlands are part of a large igneous province — a region with a significant accumulation of large lava rocks. The Semien Range was formed due to volcanic activity about 31 million years ago.
- Although the highlands are surrounded by deserts, their elevation results in a temperate climate with ample rainfall. Lake Tana and its tributaries support an important fishing industry, in addition to agriculture in the surrounding wetlands. The lake also feeds the Blue Nile, which runs through northern Ethiopia and southern Sudan and delivers water to many communities. The river flows out of the south side of Lake Tana, through lower canyon areas south of the lake, and then east to ultimately join the White Nile in Sudan.
Figure 19: The astronaut photograph ISS061-E-113632 was acquired on January 3, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 50 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 61 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Sara Schmidt)
• July 7, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is spending six months on the International Space Station as part of his second mission Alpha. In his free time, like many astronauts, he enjoys looking out of the Cupola windows at Earth. This collage of pictures shows London, United Kingdom, made from many pictures mapped together, digitally rotated and assembled into this large collage. 18)
Figure 20: Greater London as observed from the ISS by Thomas Pesquet. Thomas asked ESA to have the series of highly zoomed-in pictures aligned into this collage to show the area in detail. The International Space Station flies at roughly 400 km altitude so Thomas uses the longest lenses available onboard (image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet/W. Harold)
• July 4, 2021: The original layout and design of Washington, D.C., comes to life in this springtime photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station. The near-nadir, high resolution photo offers a view of the city’s layout that its architects, Peter L‘Enfant and Andrew Ellicott, could only imagine when they drew up plans for the District of Columbia in the 1790s. Nestled at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, today the city serves as both the seat of the U.S. government and as a tribute to the history of the nation. 19)
- From above, the city layout draws the eye to the Capitol. This was the architects’ starting point, and the rest of the city was built in quadrants defined by axes extending in cardinal directions from this “center” of American government. These axes orient the rest of the D.C. street grid, with one notable exception. Wide, diagonal avenues radiate from the Capitol outward through the city, meeting with other diagonals to form parks and public spaces. These diagonals, named after the first states, are the main thoroughfares. The most famous of these avenues is a direct line between two branches of government—Pennsylvania Avenue physically links the White House with the Capitol.
- L‘Enfant left a mile long stretch west of the Capitol as a grand avenue for the public interest. It was not until the early 1900s that the National Mall and Tidal Basin had enough monuments and museums that it began to take the form that appears in the image. At the turn of the 20th century, the Washington Monument, seen here casting a long shadow, was the only monument completed within the National Mall. The next hundred years saw the construction of additional monuments, memorials, and museums that commemorate U.S. history and achievements.
Figure 21: The astronaut photograph ISS064-E-40657 was acquired on March 3, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 1200 mm focal length and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, Caption by Alex Stoken)
• July 1, 2021: An uncrewed Russian Progress 78 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station’s Poisk module on the space-facing side of the Russian segment at 8:59 p.m. EDT, two days after lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Sunday, Tuesday June 29 at 7:27 p.m. (4:27 a.m. Wednesday, June 30, Baikonur time). The spacecraft were flying over southeast Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile at the time of docking. 20)
Figure 22: ISS configuration on 1 July 2021: Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon spaceships and Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 crew ship and ISS Progress 77 and 78 resupply ships (image credit: NASA TV)
- Carrying more than 3,600 pounds (1630 kg) of food, fuel, and supplies for the Expedition 65 crew, the Progress 78 resupply spacecraft will spend almost five months at the station. The cargo craft is scheduled to perform an automated undocking and relocation to the new “Nauka” Multipurpose Laboratory Module in late October. Named for the Russian word for “science,” Nauka is planned to launch to the space station in July.
• June 27, 2021: An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph of Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula, a distinct feature protruding from the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Shades of blue along the coastline accent sediment-laden waters from where the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers enter the sea. The city of Christchurch and Lake Ellesmere flank the peninsula. 21)
- Christchurch is the largest city on South Island and the second most populated city in New Zealand. Situated on the north side of the Banks Peninsula, this city is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Port Hills to the south. The hills, harbors, and coves of the Banks Peninsula are remnants of extinct, eroded volcanoes.
- The sources of the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers are found in the Southern Alps, a mountain range that runs along most of South Island’s west coast. The rivers transport large amounts of sediment from the mountains and into the lower Canterbury Plains before flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Groundwater from the Waimakariri and Rakaia also feeds the brackish Lake Ellesmere. The volume and particle size of the sediment results in the formation of braided rivers. In the case of the Waimakariri, the river course has been further channelized to reduce flooding.
Figure 23: This astronaut photograph ISS064-E-44621 was acquired on March 18, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 116 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
• June 20, 2021: NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet concluded their spacewalk at 2:10 p.m. EDT, after 6 hours and 28 minutes. In the eighth spacewalk of the year outside the International Space Station, the two astronauts completed the deployment of a new ISS Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) on the far end of the left (port) side of the station’s backbone truss structure (P6). 22)
- Kimbrough and Pesquet successfully unfolded the solar array, bolted it into place, and connected cables to the station’s power supply to complete deployment. Additionally, the astronauts removed and stowed hardware in preparation for releasing the second iROSA from the flight support structure for installation. The pair will work toward the second solar array upgrade – this one on the P6 truss’ 4B power channel – during another spacewalk, tentatively scheduled for June 25.
- NASA is augmenting six of the eight existing power channels of the space station with new solar arrays to ensure a sufficient power supply is maintained for NASA’s exploration technology demonstrations for Artemis and beyond as well as utilization and commercialization.
- This was the eighth spacewalk for Kimbrough, the fourth for Pesquet, and the fourth they have conducted together. Kimbrough has now spent a total of 52 hours and 43 minutes spacewalking, and Pesquet’s total spacewalking time is 26 hours and 15 minutes.
Figure 24: Spacewalkers Shane Kimbrough (foreground) and Thomas Pesquet work to prepare the second roll out solar array ready for installation an upcoming spacewalk (image credit: NASA TV)
• June 20, 2021: This photo of the Sonoran Desert in Southern California was taken with a camera mounted on the outside of the International Space Station. Blocky patches of farmland are concentrated on both ends of the Salton Sea, and a short section of U.S Interstate 10—which stretches over 2,400 miles (3,800 km) from California to Florida—passes through the flat areas between the mountains. An array of solar panels stands north of the interstate. 23)
- The nearby Orocopia and Chocolate Mountains are comprised of a mix of sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks along the San Andreas Fault, allowing a variety of geologic features to be studied within a short distance. The mountains were among the locations that Apollo crews visited to train for their trips to the Moon. These “outdoor classrooms” allowed the astronauts to learn the skills necessary to make scientific observations in barren and challenging landscapes. Such field work is still a part of astronaut training.
- The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, started growing in 1905 after an irrigation canal broke and allowed the Colorado River to fill the basin. This lake has no natural outlet, so water must evaporate to leave the system; this makes it saltier than the ocean. Water continues to flow into the Salton Sea from agricultural runoff, but that runoff has decreased over time and does not balance out the water lost to evaporation. Because of this, the lake is expected to become saltier with time.
Figure 25: Chocolate mountains and a salty lake highlight this desert landscape. The ISS External High-Definition Camera photograph ISS064-E-8944 was acquired on December 1, 2020, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a focal length of 85 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken during Expedition 64. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Andrea Wenzel)
• June 19, 2021: In the early 1800s, privateers and smugglers who were involved in the slave trade periodically used Galveston Island as an outpost for operations. The sandy barrier island in what is now Texas appealed to smugglers because of its proximity to Caribbean slave-trading islands, its natural harbor, and the abundance of streams and rivers that could serve as hiding places. 24)
Figure 26: The issuing of General Order No. 3 by Union troops on June 19, 1865, marked the official end of slavery in Texas and the U.S. The astronaut photographs ISS062-E-61896 and ISS055-E-110079 were acquired on February 27, 2020 and April 16, 2019 (Figure 27), with a Nikon D4 digital camera using 400 and 110 mm lenses and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The first image was taken by a member of the Expedition 62 crew. The second image was taken by a member of the Expedition 55 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth observatory, Story by Adam Voiland)
- By 1860, about one-third of Galveston’s population lived under the oppression of chattel slavery. Even after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, in the midst of America’s Civil War, change came slowly to Galveston. Most enslaved people were unaware of Lincoln’s executive order, and the practice of buying and selling Black people based on race continued in Galveston and other parts of Texas until well into 1865. As long as the Confederate Army still held power in the region, there was no way to enforce Lincoln’s order.
- Circumstances changed in April 1865 with the arrival of U.S. Major General Gordon Granger and 2,000 Union troops. On June 19, 1865, Granger issued General Order No. 3 and Union troops marched through Galveston and read the order aloud at several locations, including Union Army headquarters at the Osterman building.
- “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free,” the order stated. “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
- As news of the order spread, spontaneous celebrations broke out in African-American churches, homes, and other gathering places. As years passed, the picnics, barbecues, parades, and other celebrations that sprang up to commemorate June 19th became more formalized as freed men and women purchased land, or “emancipation grounds,” to hold annual Juneteenth celebrations.
- The location of one of these areas—Emancipation Park in Houston—is marked in the astronaut photograph above. Reverend Jack Yates, a Baptist minister and former slave, worked with his congregation and other leaders to pool money to buy the land as a site for Juneteenth celebrations in 1872. The city of Galveston and the sediment-rich waters of Galveston Bay appear on the right side of the image.
- The Texas legislature formally recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday in 1980. Dozens of other states also began to recognize the holiday in the following decades. On June 17, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed a law declaring Juneteenth to be a federal holiday. The holiday is sometimes also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Juneteenth Independence Day, and Black Independence Day.
• June 18, 2021: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet snapped this image of the Tyrone Mine, USA during his second long-duration mission known as Alpha. He posted it on social media saying: "An early morning pass over USA. The most vivid and contrasted colors are obtained in the middle of the day, but I like the shadows and pastel tones of the early morning. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!" 25)
- Thomas was launched to the ISS for his second mission, Alpha, on 23 April 2021. He will spend six months living and working on the orbital outpost where he will support more than 200 international experiments in space.
Figure 28: The Tyrone Mine is located in the Burro Mountains Mining District, Grant County, New Mexico, USA (image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet)
• June 16, 2021: Astronauts Thomas Pesquet of France and Shane Kimbrough of the United States were floating outside the International Space Station on Wednesday as they began the painstaking process of installing new solar panels to boost the orbital outpost's deteriorating power systems. 26)
- It is the first of several excursions to augment the ISS's existing eight solar arrays, with the first pair operating continuously since December 2000.
- The spacewalking duo were installing the first of six new rollout panels — but problems with display and controls on Kimbrough's spacesuit forced him to return to the station to reset his systems, and the time lost meant they will not complete the process Wednesday.
- The spacewalks "are going to be very challenging, very complex, so we've got to make sure that we're both on the same page for every movement that we do," Kimbrough said ahead of leaving the airlock Wednesday morning.
- Part of the installation procedure has to be carried out while the ISS is in the Earth's shadow, when the station is operating on battery power.
- The combination of the original arrays and six smaller arrays that are more efficient will restore power by 20 to 30 percent.
- "Together in combination they generate more power than what our original array when it was new did on its own," Dana Weigel, deputy manager, of the International Space Station program said.
- When the mission is complete, the ISS will be back to operating at 215 kW. For comparison, a desktop computer and monitor runs at around 270 watts, and a small refrigerator uses about 725 watts.
- The new arrays can be rolled out like yoga mats and are smaller and lighter than traditional solar panels.
- NASA hopes to move forward with the technology for the Artemis mission to return to the Moon, and similar panels will likely be used on a future lunar station called Gateway.
- It was Pesquet's third spacewalk and Kimbrough's seventh.
Figure 29: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet (R) checks cables in order to install the new iROSA (ISS Roll-Out Solar Arrays) on June 16, 2021 (Handout NASA TV/AFP)
• June 15, 2021: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, according to one of the three laws of robotics imagined by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. On board humanity’s only outpost in space, this obedience has turned into cooperation. Astronauts and robots are working together. 27)
- The latest robot to service the International Space Station is the European Robotic Arm (ERA). This android automaton is much like a human arm. It has an elbow, shoulders and even wrists, and it the first robot able to ‘walk’ around the Russian part of the Space Station.
- The arm will be launched into space together with the Multipurpose Laboratory Module, called ‘Nauka’, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on 15 July 2021 at 19:18 CEST.
Figure 30: ESA astronaut André Kuipers is seen in this picture during his first space mission in 2004, with a scale model of the European Robotic Arm on his chest. The real thing has a length of over 11 m, and has the ability to anchor itself to the Station in multiple locations, moving backwards and forwards with a large range of motion (image credit: ESA/NASA)
- “I am happy to see the European Robotic Arm fly next month. It was a real pleasure to help prepare this fantastic piece of robotics for its duties on the International Space Station”, says André, who trained under water with a real-size model of the robot at Star City, in Russia, before his spaceflight.
- Astronauts will find in ERA a most valuable ally – it will save them precious time to do other work in space. ERA will transfer payloads from inside to outside the International Space Station, but it will also help spacewalkers by transporting them around like a cherry-picker crane.
- The crew can control ERA from both inside and outside the Space Station, a feature that no other robotic arm has offered before. The robotic arm can perform many tasks automatically, and it can be controlled in real time or preprogrammed. ERA’s first tasks in orbit are to set up the airlock and install a large radiator for ‘Nauka’.
- ERA is 100% made-in-Europe. A consortium of European companies led by Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands designed and assembled it for ESA.
- The story of the European Robotic Arm is one of perseverance – it has survived four changes of scenario, dealt with different space agencies and coped with budget shortfalls while keeping an international team motivated.
- After two decades of technical and programmatic challenges, the long-awaited premiere of ERA in space is finally happening.
• June 13, 2021: This photograph, taken by an astronaut from the International Space Station (ISS), captures the estuarine ecosystem of the Loza Bay wetlands in northwest Madagascar. Estuaries are coastal habitats where fresh water from rivers—in this case, the Ankofia and Maevarano—mixes with salt water from the ocean in partially enclosed basins. 28)
- Rivers carry oxidized sediment loads down from Madagascar’s high central plateau toward the Mozambique Channel (not pictured). This reddish-brown sediment-laden freshwater mixes with the clearer, blue saltwater that sloshes in and out of the estuary from the sea with the movement of the tides.
- Mangrove forests are common around Madagascar’s major estuaries as the brackish waters create the environmental conditions in which the trees thrive. Mangrove forests play a vital role in sustaining coastal communities—not only as resources for agriculture and aquaculture, but as sources for fuelwood, charcoal production, and timber. However, the unsustainable harvesting of these mangroves and other local vegetation and wildlife threatens the biodiversity of coastal Madagascar.
Figure 31: Sediment-rich water from the interior of Madagascar meets the sea in mangrove-fringed Loza Bay. This astronaut photograph ISS064-E-14839 was acquired on December 19, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 400 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Amber Turner)
• June 6, 2021: An astronaut aboard the ISS focused a camera lens on Delhi, the capital city and center of the largest urban region in India and fifth largest in the world. Including the surrounding metropolitan areas, the population of Delhi in 2021 surpassed 31 million people. 29)
- The conurbation now links the surrounding cities of Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Faridabad, and Gurgaon; collectively, this urbanized area stretches for 70 kilometers (45 miles) along the Yamuna River. These cityscapes display the typical light-toned grays of building materials in the region.
- The government center, New Delhi, is an inner sector of Delhi that hosts India’s parliament, ministries, and presidential palace. An abundance of trees and parks makes New Delhi appear as a darker-toned region straddling the Yamuna River. This part of Delhi also houses national sports stadiums and major cultural buildings, such as the Hindu Akshardham Temple. It is home to the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India; it was completed in 1656 during the period of the Mughal Empire.
- Smaller cities surrounding the urban region include Panipat, Rohtak, Rewari, and Mathura west of the river and Meerut and Aligarh on the east side. The cities are, in turn, surrounded by hundreds of small towns and villages, which show up as small gray dots scattered across the view. The rust color south of the metro region is due to reddish rocks that appear at the land surface.
- A short reach of the Ganga River (Ganges) appears at the top right. The width of the Ganga is greater than that of the Yamuna, indicating its larger flow and wider channel. These rivers drain water from the Himalaya Mountains, and both are critical to the water supply of the Delhi region. Water from the Ganga is led along the Upper Ganga Canal, which was built in the 1800s to bring water to the city and the rich farmland of the surrounding plains.
Figure 32: This astronaut photograph ISS064-E-37008 was acquired on February 23, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 78 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Justin Wilkinson)
- The two cosmonauts opened the hatch to the Poisk docking compartment airlock to begin the spacewalk at 1:53 a.m. EDT. They re-entered the airlock and closed the hatch at 9:12 a.m.
- During the spacewalk, the duo disconnected the external mechanical links between Pirs and the space station, relocated spacewalk hardware including a telescoping crane, and reconfigured antennas to prepare the Pirs module for undocking and disposal. Additionally, the cosmonauts replaced a fluid flow regulator panel on the nearby Zarya module, jettisoned the old panel as planned, and replaced biological and material science samples on the exterior of the Russian modules.
- Pirs will be replaced by the new Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module, named “Nauka,” which is Russian for “science.” The undocking of Pirs is scheduled for this summer, about two days after Nauka launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
- This was the first spacewalk for both cosmonauts and the 238th spacewalk overall in support of International Space Station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades. It also marks the sixth spacewalk of 2021.
Figure 33: Pyotr Dubrov’s helmet camera spots Oleg Novitskiy on the other end of the 46-foot-long (14 meters) Strela boom, a Russian crane, that the spacewalkers detached from the Pirs airlock (image credit: NASA)
Figure 34: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured this image of fellow cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov during a spacewalk on 2 June 2021 (image credit: ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet) 31)
• June 1 marked the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends Nov. 30. After 2020 brought a record number of named storms in the North Atlantic basin, NASA is once again prepared to help understand and monitor these storms from the unique vantage point of space and is providing experts to discuss hurricanes and other extreme weather events. 32)
- Climate change is increasing the heat in the ocean basins and already making it more likely that storms will intensify faster and become stronger, a phenomenon NASA scientists continue to study.
- Using data from its 20-plus earth-observing satellites, NASA plays a foundational role in the science of hurricanes. But when it comes to operational forecasting, the agency’s main role is through its crucial partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NASA designs, builds, and launches NOAA’s suite of satellites that provide the data that specifically feed numerical weather prediction models.
- “NASA’s cutting-edge science helps us answer questions that nobody else can, especially when it comes to understanding hurricanes and their impacts before, during, and after they make landfall,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “As climate change intensifies and makes natural hazards like hurricanes more damaging, NASA is more committed than ever to innovative Earth science research. Our next-generation Earth System Observatory will build on NASA’s existing capabilities to provide an unprecedented understanding of the Earth from bedrock to atmosphere, so we are better prepared to protect our communities from hurricanes and other extreme weather events.”
Figure 35: Hurricane Florence is pictured from the International Space Station as a category 1 storm as it was making landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Sept. 14, 2018 (image credit: NASA)
- NASA's goal for disaster preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery is bridging the gap between data and the people who need it. Before, during, and after a hurricane or storm makes landfall, NASA satellites are in prime position to identify impacts.
- NASA works with local officials and first responders, federal agencies such as FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and infrastructure experts to determine what information they need and to supply it in usable formats in real time. Examples include information on infrastructure failures and disruptions, contaminated water supplies and other hotspots for urgent response needs.
- NASA welcomes media inquiries about its role in studying and understanding hurricanes. The following NASA scientists, who represent a cross-section of expertise in hurricane science and application, are available for media interviews as scheduling allows:
a) Mara Cordero-Fuentes, an atmospheric scientist/meteorologist, fluent in both English and Spanish, with published research in hurricane science, plus 10 years’ experience in data assimilation systems, tropical meteorology, climate interpretation, and weather forecasting.
b) Scott Braun, a research meteorologist who specializes in using computer modeling to recreate the components of hurricanes, including winds, rainfall, and in-cloud heating.
c) Dalia Kirschbaum, whose work focuses on rainfall-triggered landslide modeling, monitoring and mapping.
d) Will McCarty, a research meteorologist at NASA’s Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.
e) Nadya Vinogradova Shiffer, ocean physicist and program manager of the physical oceanography program at NASA Headquarters, who can speak to sea level rise, ocean warming, and the interplay between the oceans and tropical storms.
f) Mayra Oyola-Merced, an expert in atmospheric physics, field research, numerical weather prediction, and operational forecasting.
g) Patrick Duran, who specializes in the synthesis of satellite observations with idealized modeling to explore the dynamics of tropical cyclone intensification.
h) Tim Hall, a senior researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, who specializes in tropical cyclones’ relationship to climate and the hazard they pose to coastal communities.
- To inquire about interview availability with one or more of these scientists, please contact Peter Jacobs at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• May 30, 2021: While orbiting over the Gulf of Mexico, an astronaut onboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Isla del Carmen, a barrier island on the Yucatan Peninsula (Figure 36). The population boomed here in the 1970s with the discovery of oil in the shallow offshore waters. Today the Mexican city is a hub for fishing and petroleum industries. The island is connected to the mainland by the Zacatal Bridge, one of the longest in Central America. 33)
- Several rivers discharge freshwater and sediment into the lagoon, and inlets on either side of the island create a circulatory water exchange. In the photo, dark, sediment-laden water flows out of Laguna de Términos, while white streaks trace the wakes of ships moving through the plume. Water flows out of the lagoon via Carmen Inlet, and the sediment mixes and disperses in the blue waters of the Bay of Campeche.
- Laguna de Términos is the largest coastal lagoon in Mexico and likely along the entire Gulf Coast (including the United States). The area is home to a variety of protected flora and fauna, including bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, and mangroves, which appear as dark green shoreline vegetation in the photo. The less populated, marshy mainland to the left side is a protected area for many coastal plant and bird species.
Figure 36: Circulation patterns stir up abundant sediment around the largest coastal lagoon on the Gulf Coast. The astronaut photograph ISS064-E-7784 was acquired on November 29, 2020, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 800 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Sara Schmidt)
• May 25, 2021: This oblique photograph of Figure 37 captures an astronaut’s perspective of Thailand at night as viewed from the International Space Station. The prominent lights of Bangkok—Thailand’s capital and most populous city—are the focal point, with the lights of other cities lining the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. 34)
- The dark swath of land in the top left is the Malay Peninsula, which separates the Andaman Sea from the Gulf of Thailand. The darker, forested Tenasserim Hills stand out from the lighter-toned, lower coastal plains to the east.
- Bangkok is considered a primate city—where the population is at least double the size of the country’s second largest city. Bangkok’s population of more than 10 million is many times greater than Chon Buri (population 1.4 million), the next largest. City lights provide a visual indication of the high population density in and around the city center.
- Laem Chabang is visible along the eastern coast of the Bay of Bangkok. It is the country’s largest deep seaport and sees most of the international shipping reaching Thailand.
- The green dots sprinkled throughout the Gulf are fishing boats using lights to attract plankton and squid. Fishing is an important industry, as most of Thailand’s consumption of animal protein comes from seafood. Companies around the Gulf of Thailand are also among the largest foreign suppliers of fish to the United States.
Figure 37: Thailand’s capital and most populous city lights up southeast Asia. The astronaut photograph ISS064-E-37842 was acquired on February 26, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 58 mm. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Laura Phoebus)
• May 18, 2021: Like an infant adjusting to the new world, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is relearning how to move around the weightless environment of space. His cradle is a familiar place though – this is Thomas’s second mission to the International Space Station, the orbiting lab where he where he broke records for science during his first six months in orbit. 35)
- In the same way one never forgets how to ride a bike, Thomas’s cognitive and muscle memory is helping him to adapt much faster this time. And he is already working on some of the 232 experiments he will support during his Alpha mission.
- As babies on Earth, we learn to adjust our grip to the weight and gravitational force of an object. In microgravity, objects have no weight and the inner ear no longer tells us which way is up or down. In two familiar space experiments, Thomas has been reaching for virtual objects. The results will help researchers understand the importance of gravity compared to other senses.
- The GRIP experiment studies how long it takes for the nervous system to adjust to the absence of gravity. After setting the experiment up in Europe’s Columbus laboratory, Thomas completed his first science sessionholding an object equipped with sensors between his right thumb and index finger.
- He moved his arm between two targets with eyes open and shut, and did a series of taps both sitting and in supine postures. Without the signals of gravity to tell Thomas which direction was “up”, how will his brain and body adjust the grip force?
Figure 38: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet configures equipment for an experiment called GRIP that studies astronauts' perception of mass and movement and how they interface with the human body and change in microgravity, Thomas recently shared this image on his social media channels saying: "An old friend of mine: the ESA GRIP experiment! On my first parabolic flight in 2010, we took part in a safety analysis of the hardware, then during my first flight in 2017 I performed the on-orbit commissioning. It has been going strong since with 6 subjects (including ESA astronauts @astro_alex_esa and @astro_luca), and I should be one of the last ones! It is complex, with lots of cables… always hard to manage when you’re free-floating. The experiment is under the responsibility of CADMOS, the French User Operations Centre based in Toulouse. They do an excellent job of sorting out the cables and telling us what goes where." (image credit: ESA/NASA - T. Pesquet)
Figure 39: Timelapse video made during ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet’s second mission to the International Space Station, “Alpha”. The camera is setup to take pictures at regular intervals, the pictures are then played quickly after each other at faster than normal speed. The video shows Thomas running a session on the Grasp (Gravitational References for Sensimotor Performance) experiment in the European Columbus laboratory. GRASP seeks to better understand how the central nervous system integrates information from different senses, such as sight, sound and touch, to coordinate hand movements and determine what role gravity plays (video credit: ESA/NASA)
- Whether gravity is the main driver for movement is also the focus of the GRASP experiment. In a seated posture and also while free floating, Thomas wore a virtual reality headset as he carried out a range of tasks. Researchers are curious to understand how the nervous system integrates information from different senses, such as sight and touch.
- Astronauts exercise two hours a day to compensate for the loss of bone and muscle mass from living in weightlessness. To help Thomas break the monotony of daily workout in NASA’s Destiny laboratory, the Immersive Exercise experiment uses virtual reality.
Figure 40: ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet is here working out while his crew mate NASA astronaut, Shane Kimbrough, takes pictures of Earth. Thomas recently shared this image on his social media channels saying:"A typical view on the International Space Station's NASA Destiny laboratory. The legs sticking out are Shane's who was opening the shutters to admire the view after an exercise session. The window he is looking out looks straight down at Earth and when we fly over Europe it is often my legs sticking out :)" (image credit: JAXA/NASA–A. Hoshide)
- Thomas and his crewmate NASA astronaut Megan McArthur performed their first session of the Myotones experiment designed to monitor the tone, stiffness and elasticity of their muscles. A non-invasive, portable device delivers a short pressure pulse on Thomas’s back, shoulders, arms and legs – areas known to be affected by atrophy during extended periods of inactivity. The European astronaut will also take ultrasound and blood tests.
- They are two of the 12 astronauts to take part in this experiment that could improve the lives of many people affected by strained muscles with new strategies for rehabilitation treatments as well as people who have been inactive for long periods of time.
- It feels like yesterday when ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst kicked off the Time experiment during his mission to the Space Station in 2018. This European research that looks into how perception of time seems to change for astronauts living in space, has now been completed.
- NASA’s Victor Glover and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi were the last test subjects to have their reaction times recorded. They used virtual reality to gauge how long a visual target appeared on a screen and measure whether their perception of time speeds up when living in microgravity.
Figure 41: Time keeping. This picture shows NASA astronaut Victor Glover as test subject for ESA’s Time experiment on 26 March 2021. This experiment uses virtual reality to chart whether our perception of time changes when living on the International Space Station. Since perceptions of time and space are believed to share the same neural processes, and research on depth perception in weightlessness has shown that astronauts often underestimate distance, scientists speculate that, for astronauts, time also flies in space. The Time experiment on the International Space Station investigates the claim that time subjectively speeds up in microgravity (image credit: NASA)
- Thomas is making time to bring some bonus science for the researchers of this experiment during his mission. He will conduct his first session this week.
- Thomas's stay in space coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Space Station’s largest scientific instrument. It has been a decade since the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) began looking for dark matter and antimatter, and measuring cosmic rays. These are high energy particles that travel through space at close to the speed of light.
- ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano took part in four spacewalks to repair the cosmic ray detector’s cooling system – a complex task that ensured the cosmic-particle-hunting continues to collect data and provide more groundbreaking science, 10 years and more than 175 billion cosmic rays later.
Feel the heat
- While astronauts slept, the Material Science Laboratory (MSL) kept the heat on for the CETSOL experiment. Europe’s space furnace heated up metals with temperatures as high as 880° C to study microstructures during the solidification of metallic alloys.
Figure 42: The Columbus laboratory is Europe’s largest single contribution to the International Space Station. Permanently attached to the Harmony module, this pressurized laboratory allows researchers on the ground, aided by the Station’s crew, to conduct a wide variety of research in a weightless environment. Experiments in space science, Earth observation and technology can also be conducted outside the module, thanks to four exterior mounting platforms that are exposed to the vacuum of space. During his Alpha mission, Thomas will continue this research and experimentation on the ISS supported by his crewmates and ground teams from ESA, the US space agency NASA, Russian space agency Roscosmos, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japanese space agency JAXA. This enduring international partnership is a key feature of the Space Station as nations work across cultures and borders, performing science, research and engineering that has led to breakthroughs in disease research, materials science, Earth observation, our understanding of Earth’s origins and more. This work helps humankind explore even farther while enhancing life here on Earth – setting Europe in good stead for its journey forward, beyond low Earth orbit to the Moon (image credit: ESA/NASA)
- Most metals used today are mixtures of different metals, known as alloys. These alloys combine properties to make new materials and are found everywhere from your smartphone to aircraft.
- Scientists want to better understand the melting-solidification processes in alloys, and they took organic compounds to the Space Station as analogues for experimentation. The Transparent Alloys experiment, completed last week, observed their formation unaffected by convection.
• May 17, 2021: Ensuring that plants receive the nourishment they need through proper irrigation is an age-old challenge for farmers here on Earth. It is also a challenge in space. NASA is one step closer to determining the most effective way to provide adequate hydration and aeration for plants to grow in space after completing NASA Glenn’s Plant Water Management (PWM) project. 36)
- This project is part of ongoing NASA research to learn how to feed astronaut crews during long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars, as they spend weeks, months, and even years in space.
Figure 43: Astronaut Mike Hopkins works with the PWM hydroponics test cell on the space station (image credit: NASA)
- “In the past, NASA has shown that plant growth in space is feasible as a food source,” said PWM Project Scientist Tyler Hatch. “From a gardening perspective, it’s possible.”
- In prior projects, researchers found that providing adequate hydration and aeration to the root zone of the plant in zero gravity is an issue. Roots grow differently in space compared to on Earth due to the difference in gravity.
- Hatch’s team worked with plant biologists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to determine the needs of plants and issues that arise when attempting to grow vegetation on the International Space Station.
- Researchers concentrated on the delivery of water throughout the entire life cycle of the plant by looking at two main ways water can reach the plant’s root zone. The first focused on the traditional manner with the use of soil. The second method involved hydroponics. In this method, no soil is present, and the plant sits directly in water.
- The team developed artificial, or simulated, plants for use during the project. Using live plants would pose a challenge, mostly for shelf-life purposes. They used felt fabric, foam, and sponges to create simulated plants that mirrored the root system and evaporation rate of a live plant, among other physical characteristics. This way, the team did not have to match the biology of working with a real plant.
Figure 44: The PWM Hydroponics Test Cell was used to help researchers determine the most effective way to provide adequate hydration and aeration for plants to grow in space (image credit: NASA)
- When running the experiment, fruit punch containing nutrients and sugar, helped simulate more Earth-like plant conditions. Additionally, the color of the juice could be easily seen during plant absorption.
- Data collection centered on visual aspects of the experiment, and how quickly the plants absorbed the fruit punch. Cameras captured video of the PWM (Plant Water Management) process on the space station, which was then relayed to Glenn researchers.
- The PWM project completed the first set of space station operations at the end of February and completed its final iteration in early April. The team gathered valuable data and hopes to run more tests in the future.
- “It was rewarding to work on an experiment that went into space and could impact food supplies for future astronauts,” said Hatch. “Running the experiment and obtaining the data within a year or two was an amazing opportunity.”
• May 16, 2021: In this photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS), white wakes mark the paths of ships passing under the Sunshine Skyway, a main thoroughfare between parts of Tampa Bay. Appearing as a large bite out of the western coastline, Tampa Bay is one of the defining features of the Florida coast when viewed from the ISS by day and by night. The different shades of color in and around the bay illustrate variations in water depth and the movement of suspended sediment. 37)
Figure 45: The astronaut photograph ISS064-E-26355 was acquired on January 23, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using an 800 millimeter focal length. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, caption by Alex Stoken)
- Until 1954, travel between the various cities within the Tampa Bay area was primarily ferry-based. The original Sunshine Skyway Bridge, stretching between St. Petersburg and Palmetto, sought to connect the regions of the bay. For a time it was the longest pre-stressed bridge in the United States, according to the Tampa Bay Times. After a major ship-related accident in 1980, the bridge was dismantled and turned into piers that now appear like branches when viewed from above. The piers stand on the southwestern side of the new bridge, also named the Sunshine Skyway.
- In addition to the Skyway—the tallest manmade point in Tampa—smaller bridges have been built to connect other keys that lie around the mouth of Tampa Bay. The keys are small, sandy buildups on the surface coral reefs, and they have been joined by man-made islands and piers. Florida granted a multitude of dredge and fill permits in the mid-1900s, allowing developers to dig sand from the bay and use the material to augment and adapt the existing landscape. These developments have become densely populated neighborhoods between the undeveloped—and now often protected—natural keys.
• May 15, 2021: Looking down from space, the human presence is starkly apparent in the way we light our cities, transport our manufactured products, and grow our food. Even the way we play is visible from hundreds of miles above. 38)
- On May 1, 2021, an astronaut onboard the International Space Station shot this photograph of Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado. More than 100 trails sweep down the eastern side of Tenmile Range, a portion of the Southern Rocky Mountains located about 60 miles (100 km) west-southwest from Denver. Part of the Copper Mountain resort is also visible in the lower-left corner.
- Notice that even in May, the trails are still blanketed in white. This is typical for the Tenmile Range, which retains snow at higher elevations into the summer months. As of mid-May, the snow water equivalent—the depth of water in the snowpack if it were all melted—was very close to the 1981–2010 average in the Breckenridge and Copper Mountain areas. That’s not the case everywhere, however, and the state’s varied topography can lead to vastly different amounts of snow cover.
Figure 46: More than 100 trails sweep down the side of Tenmile Range, a portion of the Southern Rocky Mountains located west-southwest from Denver. The astronaut photograph ISS065-E-13520 was acquired on May 1, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using an 1150 mm lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 65 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory, story by Kathryn Hansen)
- The Tenmile Range is named for the distance spanned by 10 of the range’s peaks, each about a mile apart and named in numerical order. The slopes of five of these peaks—Peak 6 through Peak 10—are within the Breckenridge resort. Peak 8 was the first to be developed and opened to skiers in December 1961. Peak 8 Ski Area, as it was named at the time, consisted of 1,764 acres, one chair lift, and fewer than 10 trails. Since then, Breckenridge Ski Resort has expanded to nearly 3,000 skiable acres, 34 chair lifts, and 191 trails.
- More than 500 of those acres opened to skiers and snowboarders for the 2013-2014 winter season following the development of Peak 6, visible in the detailed view above. The additional runs —not yet present when we last showed the area in 2008—are visible where they cut through the forest. At higher elevations, Peak 6 trails include the area’s first bowl-shaped terrain above the tree line rated for intermediate skiers.
Figure 47: Detail image of the Breckenridge ski slopes (image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)
- The U.S. Forest Service had to deliberate carefully before deciding to approve projects on Peak 6. Land managers had to weigh public and economic benefits against potential effects that forest removal could have on lynx habitat, water resources, and overall forest health. Breckenridge is not alone, as many other ski resorts across Colorado currently look to expand.