September 17, 2011 11:38 PM   Subscribe

How does it feel to fly over planet Earth from the perspective of the ISS? A timelapse movie by James Drake, compiled from pictures drawn from the incredible Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Place the video in HD and fullscreen for the full effect. via

The thin green-brown arc seen above the Earth is aerosol haze: particles suspended in the high atmosphere that are invisible from the ground but made manifest when viewed edge-on from orbit. Naturally, the ISS orbits the Earth at a more sedate pace than this movie: about 90× slower.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (27 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
Whoa that is AWESOME. Are the flashing lights in the clouds... lightning?!? I never knew how much of it is going on all the time!
posted by ottereroticist at 11:42 PM on September 17, 2011

Looks like global thermonuclear war, cities being reduced to molten gold.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 PM on September 17, 2011

Wow. When I finally decide to install that ceiling projector, I now know what's going to run on it most of the time.
posted by mykescipark at 11:52 PM on September 17, 2011

The lightning is amazing. I feel like I need to deploy a siege tank in support of someone, somewhere. (Now an understanding of so much is revealed to me.)

I wish I had a sense for the geography. The sense of motion is incredible. Vertiginous is an apt term.
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:02 AM on September 18, 2011

The lightning is very forboding and likely the only reason why we haven't been invaded by an alien species.

Also, comparing the video with the ISS flight path was ultimately futile fun for me, but fun nonetheless.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:04 AM on September 18, 2011

Africa to Mongolia.
posted by plep at 12:06 AM on September 18, 2011

Oh, of course. It doesn't orbit over just the same parts of the world. That might explain why trying to use the current path as a guide wasn't working. Science triumphs again!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:10 AM on September 18, 2011

On the 10th-12th viewings, I focused on the reflection of city lights and thunderstorms on the underside of the module above. Just beautiful. Now I'm fascinated by the constantly-adjusting solar panels. I'm curious - why, while on the night side of the planet, do the panels oscillate?
posted by prinado at 12:38 AM on September 18, 2011

why, while on the night side of the planet, do the panels oscillate?

It might be rotating the radiators that keep the ISS cool, aligning them to the cooler night-side of Earth to get the best heat draw.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:55 AM on September 18, 2011

I Want To Go To There.
posted by LoudMusic at 1:50 AM on September 18, 2011

Not to be a dick but what's with people telling me to "fullscreen for full effect" in their FPPs? Is this really needed?
posted by nathancaswell at 4:22 AM on September 18, 2011

It's crazy that you can see the edge of the atmosphere the whole time. Also these are really long shutter time exposures right? The lights don't look that bright to the naked eye!
posted by nathancaswell at 4:26 AM on September 18, 2011

We're in the pipe. five.
posted by buzzv at 6:02 AM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Absolutely gorgeous and amazing. Thank you so much for posting this.
posted by theora55 at 6:22 AM on September 18, 2011

So good! Thanks!
posted by beerbajay at 6:24 AM on September 18, 2011

Awesome stuff. Wow. Thanks for this post. I would give just about anything to be able to see it for myself first-hand.
posted by Salieri at 6:30 AM on September 18, 2011

I just finished watching a four-hour broadcast on NHK (the Japanese BBC) of footage captured by a high-def camera on the ISS. It was fascinating, and interspersed with mind-blowing live footage. I was hovering over Mexico as the sun rose there! It's hard to forget those images. Unfortunately, the videos can't be viewed outside Japan, but here are some photos...
posted by shii at 6:33 AM on September 18, 2011

Thanks! That was cool. Esp the lightning.
posted by mischiefmaker75 at 6:39 AM on September 18, 2011

Cool. You don't usually see the stars and the Earth in the same frame. I wonder if this is augmented in the same way that low-light security footage is.
posted by jabah at 7:15 AM on September 18, 2011

Beautiful. Thank you, Bora.
posted by doctornemo at 7:24 AM on September 18, 2011

That was incredible. Were those thunderstorms in the clouds?
posted by mitrieD at 7:57 AM on September 18, 2011

Absolutely amazing, thanks for posting this. It helps that the ISS is in a low orbit, about 190 miles. You get a good view from down there. I love that it was done by some random guy on the Internet using online imagery.

Yes, that's thunderstorms. They have an enormous amount of energy, both wind and electrical. Youtube has a wide selection of videos of lightning from space, although few this clear.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 AM on September 18, 2011

The Earth's Electrical Structure: "There are roughly 2000 thunderstorms in progress around the world at any one time, producing about 30 to 100 cloud-to-ground flashes each second or about five million flashes a day."
posted by homunculus at 10:16 AM on September 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Am I right that we are traveling south from somewhere in California past Los Angeles, San Diego, and then past Baja California and down the western side of Mexico, past Central America on the left, and then into South America?
posted by Max Udargo at 10:47 AM on September 19, 2011

I think you are absolutely right, Max Udargo.
At 21 or 22 seconds you can see the Baja California peninsula on the left. It's unmistakable. The very bright xone at 24-29 seconds is Mexico City. I believe towards the end of the video what can be seen is the coast of Chile.
posted by omegar at 8:57 PM on September 20, 2011

How I spent my last day in #space
posted by homunculus at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2011

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