Note: Not our photos (obviously).
We write about beautiful and exciting countries we’ve visited, stunning scenery, and exquisite wildlife. We’ve yet to write about the Earth itself for its vast expanse and perspective as seen from space. I’ve always dreamed of going into space, but realistically the cost and my age are hugely limiting factors.
When we’re flying, I am mesmerized by the scenery below, but I can’t even imagine seeing earth from space and how mesmerizing it must be. I always envy astronauts’ opportunities to see this earth from their viewpoints. Now, with technology at an all-time pinnacle, records from space stations have sent the space community into a frenzy.
There’s no point in using my own words to describe these events when I am certainly no expert and only a casual observer of what I see and read from reports along with photos from ultra-high-powered telescopes.
Thus, today, I am sharing an article I read that offers some new insight, some of which you may be aware of and others that you may not. Bear with me as I relay the words of the writer of this article that piqued my attention and interest. Perhaps, you may find it interesting as well.
Here it is from this article:
“Space Station Records Remarkable Phenomenon That Left Astronauts and Experts Bewildered
Outer space is something many of us have a fascination with, as well as a hard time completely grasping. Endless space is something most of us have only seen through television and film. With our curiosity and desire for discovery, we must also remember to look homeward and all the amazing things that take place on Earth.
As humankind has explored more and more of space, it has also grown a little bored with the findings, as many of them repeat themselves. However, these recent images taken from a space station have captured a phenomenon that reminds us that Earth is still filled with mysteries that need to be answered.
Space, as we know so far, is filled with planets, stars, and endless discoveries. With the advancement of technology, we have made tremendous strides in exploring space. We view it with admiration and never-ending study to try and find out more about all of the uncharted territory that surrounds our planet.
Recently, a group of astronauts who has been living at the space station, spotted an event on Earth that left them totally baffled. They had never seen anything like it.
Overlooking our own planet
While a possible extraterrestrial sighting would be top headline news, there is another truly mystifying place that we keep overlooking – our own planet.
Earth has been occupied by us for as long as humans have been around, naturally, and we have therefore lost some of our appreciation for the fact that there is a lot about Earth that we don’t know, and the fact that it, too, is taking up a place in space. Maybe thins change of perspective will help convince you…
Only astronauts can take these photos
From their spot on the International Space Station, astronauts are able to take photos of Earth with their high-powered camera and lenses that are retrofitted to the space station itself. Over the years that they have been on the vessel, the men and women on board have snapped some absolutely incredible sights.
Getting a view like that only happens with you are hundreds of miles away from the Earth’s surface, floating right outside its atmosphere. These are breathtaking images.
The Milky Way as a backdrop to Earth
In this image, you can see the far away edge of the Milky Way as a spectacular background to Earth. What you are seeing below, on Earth, is the Sahara Desert in Africa, which tends to tint the atmosphere with an orange hue as the sun begins to arrive on that side of the planet.
The sun makes the Earth seem orange as the light bounces off the sand. The stark contrast between Earth and space is a bold one in this photo.
The International Space Station orbits Earth every 90 minutes. As it goes through these motions, the astronauts aboard the vessel see the moon 16 times a day. This is one of the photos that their camera caught during one of their rotations.
It is part of their daily life, seeing the moon so many times. Sounds disorienting to us, but these men and women were trained for all of this prior to entering the Space Station. This is nothing compared to the other phenomenon they encountered.
Another event these astronauts got to see on a regular basis is the auroras. These take place in the north and south poles on Earth. The International Space Station gets front row seats to one of Earth’s most magical phenomenon.
Seeing these auroras is possible from Earth, but seeing them from above, with no light pollution diminishing the view, is something else. They snapped this photo, which they said barely did the magnificent event justice. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though.
The astronauts up there are also able to see just how active we are down on the ground. The lights that beam from our respective homes and businesses collect together to show where the population is.
From space, these are the kinds of views that the men and women see. Cloudless nights look like this – whole cities and countries lit up in spectacular fashion. You are looking at Spain, where it almost meets Morocco. You have to be as far as the space station to get a view like this.
They don’t always want a front row seat to see human impact on the environment
The astronauts on the International Space Station also have a front row view to human impact on planet Earth. It is not always good to have such a view. The impact we humans have had on the environment and the manipulation through technology has truly taken its toll.
They do, however, get to see some of the world’s most incredible wonders from a point of view that only a select few – those in space – can. They are able to zoom in with their camera, like in this instance, to take this photo of the Himalayas.
To those on the ground, the Himalayas are a series of mountain peaks, but from space, you see the rivers that cut through the snow and make the natural terrain the formation that it is.
Unbelievably, what you are looking at is the desert in Iran that looks more like a painting than a massive sunny wasteland. There are no trees or any sort of coverage for the land in that area, all there is for miles and miles is sun-soaked sand and stone.
The astronauts were not sure what they were looking at the first time they got to see this. However, this is just a small part of what they see from their incredible vantage point.
They are also able to view famous spots like the Great Barrier Reef in an unprecedented way. It is already incredibly impressive when you see it from Earth, but from Earth’s orbit – it is a whole new level of wonder.
While these photos are undeniably breathtaking, there have been other photos that the crew aboard the International Space Station captured that have been much more baffling and distressing to them. Not everything had an explanation, and this was one of those times.
Terrifying views of natural disasters
From their position outside of Earth’s atmosphere, the astronauts also have a terrifying view of natural disasters. While they are out of harms way, being up there and all, they cannot help but fear as though they were on the ground.
This photo was taken in 2003 during Hurricane Isabel as it was taking shape over the Atlantic prior to hitting the eastern coast of the United States. They could see the storm collecting power as it moved across the ocean.
They helped with disaster relief efforts
Following monsoon rains that took place in Thailand, the Mekong River was flooded over badly, so much so that the Space Station was able to see just how overflowing it was.
The International Space Station, from their unique vantage point, were able to be of help in this instance, as they were able to help with relief efforts by outlining just how bad the flooding was so that the rescuers could get to the most hard-hit locations in the most timely manner.
However, in 2019, another distressing natural disaster loomed that sent the men and women on the Space Station grabbing for the camera. Despite the fact that this phenomenon is not a new one, the scene that was unfolding before their eyes was one that they could not stop watching, let alone ignore.
The powerful camera located on the International Space Station captured incredible footage, some of which did not make much sense. They were bewildered, and so were the experts who were getting their documentation.
One day, they came across this…
Initially, the astronauts could not really make out what they were looking at. There was heavy cloud coverage that day that had made viewing very difficult. However, a small plume of smoke was entering the higher levels of the atmosphere.
The team waited until they were more in orbit, and until the clouds cleared the way a bit. When everything did come into focus, the crew was absolutely in awe of what they were seeing. This was unlike anything they have ever seen before.
Incredibly, what they were seeing was a volcano erupting! The massive explosion caused a huge cloud of gas and fire, scattering debris and ash in every direction for thousands upon thousands of miles.
The crew then wondered, what volcano could be responsible for such an amazing sight? They were also concerned if there was anyone around that this could pose as a danger to. They continued to take photos of the breathtaking event as it was happening. What a sight!”
We’ll finish with Part 2 in tomorrow’s post.
Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2021: