A magnificent image of Earth taken from the International Space Station (ISS) gives the glimpse of a daily event which is otherwise ignored by us and not paid much attention to.
NASA astronaut, Christina H. Koch posted a photo on Twitter which shows how it appears from the ISS when one part of our planet is in darkness while bright daylight shines on the other half. This is actually a very rare observation for ISS as it does not normally orbit over the line which shows the transition and differentiation between day and night. It is also known as the terminator zone.
A couple times a year, the @Space_Station orbit happens to align over the day/night shadow line on Earth. We are continuously in sunlight, never passing into Earth’s shadow from the Sun, and the Earth below us is always in dawn or dusk. Beautiful time to cloud watch. #nofilter pic.twitter.com/BYDLv8RFVr
— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) May 20, 2019
Koch wrote in the accompanying post that the ISS orbit aligns over the day-night shadow line of the Earth, only few times in a year. Otherwise, the Space Station is always in the sunlight zone and it never passes to the zone of Earth’s shadow from the Sun. She also added that the Earth is always in a dawn or dusk mode and is a great time to observe it. The photo was not processed in any way before posting.
Koch was highly enchanted by the event however the reply to the post from former astronaut, Mike Fossum showed that not all astronauts preferred this view of Earth. He commented that this was his least favourite view of the planet as it was not fully clear, being distorted by low light angles. He preferred the clearer days, nights for capturing images of Earth.
Christina Koch will be spending almost a year in space which makes her the American astronaut to have the second longest spaceflight. She will be staying in space with fellow astronauts Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin for 328 days, just a few days short of the record of 340 days set by astronaut Scot Kelly. She will be returning back to our home planet in February 2020.
Koch who is a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employee paid her tributes to the organisation which is studying the effects of greenhouse gases, recovery of ozone in the stratosphere of the Earth. Before being an astronaut, she was an employee at the Baseline Observatory of GMD in Alaska and also as a station chief in the American Samoa Observatory.
“From here,” Koch said of her perch in orbit, “we have an amazing view of our home planet, Earth. Looking outside the window of the ISS is a humbling and inspiring experience. It really brings into focus how important it is that we treasure this planet that we have.”
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