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nasa earth terminator

Unique photo taken from space shows the separation of day and night on Earth

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.

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.”

Would you like to go to ISS and enjoy seeing the earth and experience the things Koch is experiencing now? Tell us with a short and quick comment


christina koch nick hague

Female NASA astronaut to make new record by spending extended time in spaceflight

NASA announced that astronaut Christina Koch will break a space record of the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman which is currently held by astronaut Peggy Whitson. As of now, she holds the record with 288 days but Koch who went to the space with Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin will be staying in the orbit for 328 days. She will return back to Earth in the month of February 2020. Though she will not be breaking the record set by astronaut Scot Kelly of the longest continuous spaceflight at 340 days.

Doctors are quite excited by this announcement as they will be able to learn a lot from it. During her time in space, Koch will monitor the changes taking place in body. It will provide researchers with the much needed valuable data of dangers of spaceflight and how well can human bodies cope with it. This data has been quite difficult to obtain as space flights usually last for six and a half months, but only few astronauts have been able to stay more than 200 days in one spaceflight. This situation presents a problem to NASA, as they aspire to send human beings to Mars within a decade, which is spaceflight lasting for six to eight months in each direction. Koch’s journey in the orbit of Earth will be able to inform us of the hardships of such long spaceflights and how differently male and female bodies react to the changes.

It is significant to note that till date, only three NASA astronauts have been able to remain in space for a continuous 200 days. They are Scott Kelly who holds the record at 340 days, Peggy Whitson, 289 days and Michael Lopez-Alegria at 215 days. It is interesting to note that Soviet Union and Russia combined have sent a dozen men on spaceflights for more than 200 days.

About 12% of the astronauts on spaceflights have been women, hence this mission will provide a more profound understanding of how gender differences affect the response of the body. A coincidence is that this updated flight schedule was announced just a week after the Twin Study was published. This revealed how cells of genetically identical individuals differed in responses, when one brother was in spaceflight and the other on Earth.

Koch will be taking part in several projects such as VECTION for studying how the vestibular system processes the movements of individuals in gravity. Besides this, there will also be experiments checking the stiffness of muscles, elasticity, ability of the brain in controlling blood flow.

Scientists want large sample size of astronauts for spaceflight studies, but since it is not possible they want to utilize the data from every individual who makes long stays.