Fragile Oasis

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Hope for Somalia

Photographs of the East Africa coast taken last summer from the International Space Station were breathtaking in their beauty. Beneath the clouds that covered the coast but delivered no rain, the worst drought in over 60 years. Photograph taken by Ron Garan from the International Space Station on July 24, 2011 At it's epicenter lay Somalia, a nation contending with ...Keep Reading

One Million Pictures

This is the millionth picture taken from ISS. Part of a time lapse series taken at night. I do not know who took it, either Dan Burbank or myself. Neither of us can remember! Click for a bigger image.Keep Reading

On the Trails of Stars

The sky is not the limit for producing artistic compositions. Put a camera on a tripod, point at a dark starry sky, and hold the shutter open for about 10 minutes, and the image will show stars as circular arcs. Normally, these star trails are created as the Earth rotates on its axis, with the center being close to either ...Keep Reading

Iridium Satellite Flares

There are bright points of light in the night sky. They are not Venus, Jupiter, or the Space Station but something that can be just as bright. It is sun glint reflecting from one of the three main mission antennas (MMA), or occasionally a solar panel, of one of the nearly 100 Iridium satellites in orbit that form a worldwide ...Keep Reading

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, was what Magellan named the tip of South America in 1520. He had seen the fires set by local inhabitants who did not want the Portuguese explorer to set foot on their land. A new page in the history of this distant part of our globe is now being written. Oil has been ...Keep Reading

Blood and Treasure

Gold, silk, and spices were the tangible treasures from past explorations. Today, the frontier of space offers treasures that are golden but not gold—secrets about the biochemistry of life, drawn from the bodies of astronauts. Weightlessness poses a biochemical challenge to human space travelers, who develop a host of fascinating maladies such as bone decalcification, cataracts, retina swelling, eye focus ...Keep Reading

A Flashing Success

Flashing the International Space Station with beams of light as it passes overhead had never been successfully done - until yesterday. It sounds deceptively easy. In an earlier post I wrote about the technical requirements. But like so many other tasks, it becomes much more involved in the execution than in the planning. Early Sunday morning, at 01:27 GMT our ...Keep Reading

Today's Coffee is Tomorrow's Coffee. Or Tea.

During the flight of STS-126 in 2008, we carried up three refrigerator-sized pieces of equipment. One was a toilet for the NASA side of space station. There was already one on the Russian side, so this one gave us redundancy. In the past, when the toilet broke, all work had halted until we fixed it. No other single piece of ...Keep Reading

Earth Photography: Harder Than It Looks

From my orbital perspective, I am sitting still and Earth is moving. I sit above the grandest of all globes spinning below my feet, and watch the world speed by at an amazing eight kilometers per second (288 miles per minute, or 17,300 miles per hour). This makes Earth photography complicated. Even with a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a ...Keep Reading