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Astronomy Picture of the Day
Search Results for "International Space Station"




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Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 November 19 – Space Station, Solar Prominences, Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no Dragon capsules attached. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most complicated spacecraft ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots circle the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's location, timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. The featured picture combined three images all taken in 2021 from the same location and at nearly the same time. One image -- overexposed -- captured the faint prominences seen across the top of the Sun, a second image -- underexposed -- captured the complex texture of the Sun's chromosphere, while the third image -- the hardest to get -- captured the space station as it shot across the Sun in a fraction of a second. Close inspection of the space station's silhouette even reveals a docked Dragon Crew capsule.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 January 7 - Space Stations in Low Earth Orbit
Explanation: On January 3, two space stations already illuminated by sunlight in low Earth orbit crossed this dark predawn sky. Moving west to east (left to right) across the composited timelapse image China's Tiangong Space Station traced the upper trail captured more than an hour before the local sunrise. Seen against a starry background Tiangong passes just below the inverted Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major near the peak of its bright arc, and above north pole star Polaris. But less than five minutes before, the International Space Station had traced its own sunlit streak across the dark sky. Its trail begins just above the W-shape outlined by the bright stars of Cassiopeia near the northern horizon. The dramatic foreground spans an abandoned mine at Achada do Gamo in southeastern Portugal.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 July 9 - Saturn and ISS
Explanation: Soaring high in skies around planet Earth, bright planet Saturn was a star of June's morning planet parade. But very briefly on June 24 it posed with a bright object in low Earth orbit, the International Space Station. On that date from a school parking lot in Temecula, California the ringed-planet and International Space Station were both caught in this single high-speed video frame. Though Saturn was shining at +0.5 stellar magnitude the space station was an even brighter -3 on the magnitude scale. That difference in brightness is faithfully represented in the video capture frame. In the challenging image, the orbiting ISS was at a range of 602 kilometers. Saturn was about 1.4 billion kilometers from the school parking lot.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 May 20 - A View from Earth's Shadow
Explanation: This serene sand and skyscape finds the Dune of Pilat on the coast of France still in Earth's shadow during the early morning hours of May 16. Extending into space, the planet's dark umbral shadow covered the Moon on that date. From that location the total phase of a lunar eclipse had begun before moonset. Still in sunlight though, the International Space Station crossed from the western horizon and Earth's largest artificial moon traced the bright flat arc through the sky over 400 km above. Simply constructed, the well-planned panoramic scene was captured over a 5 minutes in a series of consecutive images.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 April 17 - Shuttle Over Earth
Explanation: What's that approaching? Astronauts on board the International Space Station in 2010 first saw it far in the distance. Soon it enlarged to become a dark silhouette. As it came even closer, the silhouette appeared to be a spaceship. Finally, the object revealed itself to be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and it soon docked as expected with the Earth-orbiting space station. Pictured here, Endeavour was imaged near Earth's horizon as it approached, where several layers of the Earth's atmosphere were visible. Directly behind the shuttle is the mesosphere, which appears blue. The atmospheric layer that appears white is the stratosphere, while the orange layer is Earth's Troposphere. Together, these thin layers of air -- collectively spanning less than 2 percent of Earth's radius -- sustain us all in many ways, including providing oxygen to breath and a barrier to dangerous radiations from space.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 April 11 - A Space Station Crosses a Busy Sun
Explanation: Typically, the International Space Station is visible only at night. Slowly drifting across the night sky as it orbits the Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen as a bright spot several times a year from many locations. The ISS is then visible only just after sunset or just before sunrise because it shines by reflected sunlight -- once the ISS enters the Earth's shadow, it will drop out of sight. The only occasion when the ISS is visible during the day is when it passes right in front of the Sun. Then, it passes so quickly that only cameras taking short exposures can visually freeze the ISS's silhouette onto the background Sun. The featured picture did exactly that -- it is actually a series of images taken earlier this month from Beijing, China with perfect timing. This image series was later combined with separate images taken at nearly the same time but highlighting the texture and activity on the busy Sun. The solar activity included numerous gaseous prominences seen around the edge, highlighted in red, filaments seen against the Sun's face, and a dark sunspot.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 December 6 - Space Station Silhouette on the Moon
Explanation: What's that unusual spot on the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit gibbous Moon last month. The featured composite, taken from Payson, Arizona, USA last month, was intricately composed by combining, in part, many 1/2000-second images from a video of the ISS crossing the Moon. A close inspection of this unusually crisp ISS silhouette will reveal the outlines of numerous solar panels and trusses. The bright crater Tycho is visible on the upper left, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 August 8 - A Perseid Below
Explanation: Earthlings typically watch meteor showers by looking up. But this remarkable view, captured on August 13, 2011 by astronaut Ron Garan, caught a Perseid meteor by looking down. From Garan's perspective onboard the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of about 380 kilometers, the Perseid meteors streak below, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle heated to incandescence. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 kilometers per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. In this case, the foreshortened meteor flash is right of frame center, below the curving limb of the Earth and a layer of greenish airglow, just below bright star Arcturus. Want to look up at a meteor shower? You're in luck, as the 2021 Perseids meteor shower peaks this week. This year, even relatively faint meteors should be visible through clear skies from a dark location as the bright Moon will mostly absent.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 June 26 - Pixels in the Sun
Explanation: These two panels, composed of video frames made with a safe solar telescope and hydrogen alpha filter, show remarkably sharp details on the solar disk and giant prominences along the Sun's edge on June 6 (top) and June 18. Taken from Beijing, China, they also show a transit of the International Space Station and China's new Tiangong Space Station in silhouette against the bright Sun. The International Space Station is near center in the bottom panel, crossing the solar disk left of bright active region AR2833 and below a large looping solar filament. China's space station is below solar active region AR2827 and right of center in the top panel, seen as a smaller, combined "+" and "-" shape. The pictures of the transiting orbital outposts were taken with the same equipment and at the same pixel scale, with the International Space Station some 492 kilometers away. China's space station was over 400 kilometers from the camera.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 May 4 - Space Station, Solar Prominences, Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no Dragon capsules attached. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most complicated spacecraft ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots circle the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's location, timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. The featured picture combined three images all taken from the same location and at nearly the same time. One image -- overexposed -- captured the faint prominences seen across the top of the Sun, a second image -- underexposed -- captured the complex texture of the Sun's chromosphere, while the third image -- the hardest to get -- captured the space station as it shot across the Sun in a fraction of a second. Close inspection of the space station's silhouette even reveals a docked Dragon Crew capsule.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 April 1 - Rocket Launch as Seen from the Space Station
Explanation: Have you ever seen a rocket launch -- from space? A close inspection of the featured time-lapse video will reveal a rocket rising to Earth orbit as seen from the International Space Station (ISS). The Russian Soyuz-FG rocket was launched in November 2018 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying a Progress MS-10 (also 71P) module to bring needed supplies to the ISS. Highlights in the 90-second video (condensing about 15-minutes) include city lights and clouds visible on the Earth on the lower left, blue and gold bands of atmospheric airglow running diagonally across the center, and distant stars on the upper right that set behind the Earth. A lower stage can be seen falling back to Earth as the robotic supply ship fires its thrusters and begins to close on the ISS, a space laboratory that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018. Astronauts who live aboard the Earth-orbiting ISS conduct, among more practical duties, numerous science experiments that expand human knowledge and enable future commercial industry in low Earth orbit.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 March 28 - SuitSat 1: A Spacesuit Floats Free
Explanation: A spacesuit floated away from the International Space Station 15 years ago, but no investigation was conducted. Everyone knew that it was pushed by the space station crew. Dubbed Suitsat-1, the unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit filled mostly with old clothes was fitted with a faint radio transmitter and released to orbit the Earth. The suit circled the Earth twice before its radio signal became unexpectedly weak. Suitsat-1 continued to orbit every 90 minutes until it burned up in the Earth's atmosphere after a few weeks. Pictured, the lifeless spacesuit was photographed in 2006 just as it drifted away from space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 January 14 - Aurora Slathers Up the Sky
Explanation: Like salsa verde on your favorite burrito, a green aurora slathers up the sky in this 2017 June 25 snapshot from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. Emission from atomic oxygen dominates this view. The tantalizing glow is green at lower altitudes, but rarer reddish bands extend above the space station's horizon. The orbital scene was captured while passing over a point south and east of Australia, with stars above the horizon at the right belonging to the constellation Canis Major, Orion's big dog. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, is the brightest star near the Earth's limb.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 November 6 - Moon over ISS
Explanation: Completing one orbit of our fair planet in 90 minutes the International Space Station can easily be spotted by eye as a very bright star moving through the night sky. Have you seen it? The next time you do, you will have recognized the location of over 20 years of continuous human presence in space. In fact, the Expedition 1 crew to the ISS docked with the orbital outpost some 400 kilometers above the Earth on November 2, 2000. No telescope is required to spot the ISS flashing through the night. But this telescopic field of view does reveal remarkable details of the space station captured as it transited the waning gibbous moon on November 3, just one day after the space age milestone. The well-timed telescopic snapshot also contains the location of another inspirational human achievement. About 400,000 kilometers away, the Apollo 11 landing site on the dark, smooth lunar Sea of Tranquility is to the right of the ISS silhouette.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 September 23 - ISS Transits Mars
Explanation: Yes, but have you ever seen the space station do this? If you know when and where to look, watching the bright International Space Station (ISS) drift across your night sky is a fascinating sight -- but not very unusual. Images of the ISS crossing in front of the half-degree Moon or Sun do exist, but are somewhat rare as they take planning, timing, and patience to acquire. Catching the ISS crossing in front of minuscule Mars, though, is on another level. Using online software, the featured photographer learned that the unusual transit would be visible only momentarily along a very narrow stretch of nearby land spanning just 90 meters. Within this stretch, the equivalent ground velocity of the passing ISS image would be a quick 7.4 kilometers per second. However, with a standard camera, a small telescope, an exact location to set up his equipment, an exact direction to point the telescope, and sub-millisecond timing -- he created a video from which the featured 0.00035 second exposure was extracted. In the resulting image capture, details on both Mars and the ISS are visible simultaneously. The featured image was acquired last Monday at 05:15:47 local time from just northeast of San Diego, California, USA. Although typically much smaller, angularly, than the ISS, Mars is approaching its maximum angular size in the next few weeks, because the blue planet (Earth) is set to pass its closest to the red planet (Mars) in their respective orbits around the Sun.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 May 28 - Reflecting the International Space Station
Explanation: Still bathed in sunlight, the International Space Station arced through the evening sky over lake Wulfsahl-Gusborn in northern Germany, just after sunset on March 25. The familiar constellation of Orion can be seen left of the trail of the orbital station's bright passage. On the right, Venus is the brilliant evening star above the western horizon. With the camera fixed to a tripod, this scene was captured in a series of five exposures. How can you tell? The short time delay between the end of one exposure and the beginning of the next leaves small gaps in the ISS light trail. Look closely and you'll also see that the sky that appears to be above the horizon is actually a reflection though. The final image has been vertically inverted and the night skyscape recorded in the mirror-like waters of the small lake.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 3 - The Traffic in Taurus
Explanation: There's a traffic jam in Taurus lately. On April 1, this celestial frame from slightly hazy skies over Tapiobicske, Hungary recorded an impressive pile up toward the zodiacal constellation of the Bull and the Solar System's ecliptic plane. Streaking right to left the International Space Station speeds across the bottom of the telescopic field of view. Wandering about as far from the Sun in planet Earth's skies as it can get, inner planet Venus is bright and approaching much slower, overexposed at the right. Bystanding at the upper left are the sister stars of the Pleiades. No one has been injured in the close encounter though, because it really isn't very close. Continuously occupied since November 2000, the space station orbits some 400 kilometers above the planet's surface. Venus, currently the brilliant evening star, is almost 2/3 of an astronomical unit away. A more permanent resident of Taurus, the Pleiades star cluster is 400 light-years distant.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 March 12 - Falcon 9 Boostback
Explanation: Short star trails appear in this single 84 second long exposure, taken on March 6 from a rotating planet. The remarkable scene also captures the flight of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo spacecraft over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station shortly after launch, on a resupply mission bound for the International Space Station. Beginning its return to a landing zone about 9 kilometers from the launch site, the Falcon 9 first stage boostback burn arcs toward the top of the frame. The second stage continues toward low Earth orbit though, its own fiery arc traced below the first stage boostback burn from the camera's perspective, along with expanding exhaust plumes from the two stages. This Dragon spacecraft was a veteran of two previous resupply missions. Successfully returning to the landing zone, this Falcon 9 first stage had flown before too. Its second landing marked the 50th landing of a SpaceX orbital class rocket booster.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 February 20 - Trifecta at Twilight
Explanation: On February 18, as civil twilight began in northern New Mexico skies, the International Space Station, a waning crescent Moon, and planet Mars for a moment shared this well-planned single field of view. From the photographer's location the sky had just begun to grow light, but the space station orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth was already bathed in the morning sunlight. At 6:25am local time it took about a second to cross in front of the lunar disk moving right to left in the composited successive frames. At the time, Mars itself had already emerged from behind the Moon following its much anticipated lunar occultation. The yellowish glow of the Red Planet is still in the frame at the upper right, beyond the Moon's dark edge.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 January 4 - Aurora Slathers Up the Sky
Explanation: Like salsa verde on your favorite burrito, a green aurora slathers up the sky in this 2017 June 25 snapshot from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. Emission from atomic oxygen dominates this view. The tantalizing glow is green at lower altitudes, but rarer reddish bands extend above the space station's horizon. The orbital scene was captured while passing over a point south and east of Australia, with stars above the horizon at the right belonging to the constellation Canis Major, Orion's big dog. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, is the brightest star near the Earth's limb.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 October 28 - The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun
Explanation: Typically, the International Space Station is visible only at night. Slowly drifting across the night sky as it orbits the Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) can be seen as a bright spot about once a month from many locations. The ISS is then visible only just after sunset or just before sunrise because it shines by reflected sunlight -- once the ISS enters the Earth's shadow, it will drop out of sight. The only occasion when the ISS is visible during the day is when it passes right in front of the Sun. Then, it passes so quickly that only cameras taking short exposures can visually freeze the ISS's silhouette onto the background Sun. The featured picture did exactly that -- it is actually a series of images taken a month ago from Santa Fe, Argentina with perfect timing. This image series was later combined with a separate image highlighting the texture of the spotless Sun, and an image bringing up the Sun's prominences around the edge. At an unusually low Solar Minimum, the Sun has gone without sunspots now for most of 2019.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 October 19 - All Female Spacewalk Repairs Space Station
Explanation: The failed unit was beyond the reach of the robotic Canadarm2. Therefore, this repair of the International Space Station would require humans. The humans on duty were NASA's Jessica Meir and Christina Koch. This was the fourth spacewalk for Koch, the first for Meir, and the first all-female spacewalk in human history. The first woman to walk in space was Svetlana Savitskaya in 1984. Koch (red stripe) and Meir are pictured hard at work on the P6 Truss, with solar panels and the darkness of space in the background. Working over seven hours, the newly installed Battery Charge / Discharge Unit (BCDU) was successfully replaced and, when powered up, operated normally.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 July 15 - The Space Station Crosses a Spotless Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no solar panels. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots occur on the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. Strangely, besides that fake spot, in this recent two-image composite, the Sun lacked any real sunspots. The featured picture combines two images -- one capturing the space station transiting the Sun -- and another taken consecutively capturing details of the Sun's surface. Sunspots have been rare on the Sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. For reasons not yet fully understood, the number of sunspots occurring during both the previous and current solar minima have been unusually low.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 June 2 - A Live View from the International Space Station
Explanation: If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. In 2014, a robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured here, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The featured live view will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this dark time into only 45 minutes. The present location of the ISS above the Earth can be found on the web. If the video appears gray, this indicates that the view is either being switched between cameras, or communications with the ISS is temporarily unavailable. As the HDEV project continues, video quality will be monitored to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 June 1 - NICER at Night
Explanation: A payload on board the International Space Station, the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) twists and turns to track cosmic sources of X-rays as the station orbits planet Earth every 93 minutes. During orbit nighttime, its X-ray detectors remain on. So as NICER slews from target to target bright arcs and loops are traced across this all-sky map made from 22 months of NICER data. The arcs tend to converge on prominent bright spots, pulsars in the X-ray sky that NICER regularly targets and monitors. The pulsars are spinning neutron stars that emit clock-like pulses of X-rays. Their timing is so precise it can be used for navigation, determining spacecraft speed and position. This NICER X-ray, all-sky, map is composed in coordinates with the celestial equator horizontally across the center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 May 2 - Manicouagan Impact Crater from Space
Explanation: Orbiting 400 kilometers above Quebec, Canada, planet Earth, the International Space Station Expedition 59 crew captured this snapshot of the broad St. Lawrence River and curiously circular Lake Manicouagan on April 11. Right of center, the ring-shaped lake is a modern reservoir within the eroded remnant of an ancient 100 kilometer diameter impact crater. The ancient crater is very conspicuous from orbit, a visible reminder that Earth is vulnerable to rocks from space. Over 200 million years old, the Manicouagan crater was likely caused by the impact of a rocky body about 5 kilometers in diameter. Currently, there is no known asteroid with a significant probability of impacting Earth in the next century. But a fictional scenario to help practice for an asteroid impact is on going at the 2019 IAA Planetary Defense Conference.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 April 6 - ISS from Wallasey
Explanation: After sunset on March 28, the International Space Station climbed above the western horizon, as seen from Wallasey, England at the mouth of the River Mersey. Still glinting in the sunlight some 400 kilometers above planet Earth, the fast moving ISS was followed by hand with a small backyard telescope and high frame rate digital camera. A total of 2500 frames were recorded during the 7 minute long visible ISS passage and 100 of them captured images of the space station. These are the four best frames showing remarkable details of the ISS in low Earth orbit. Near the peak of its track, about 60 degrees above the horizon, the ISS was brighter than the brightest star in the sky and as close as 468 kilometers to the Wallasey backyard.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 April 2 - Space Station Silhouette on the Moon
Explanation: What's that unusual spot on the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit gibbous Moon last month. The featured image was taken from Palo Alto, California, USA with an exposure time of only 1/667 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. A close inspection of this unusually crisp ISS silhouette will reveal the outlines of numerous solar panels and trusses. The bright crater Tycho is visible on the lower left, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 November 26 - Rocket Launch as Seen from the Space Station
Explanation: Have you ever seen a rocket launch -- from space? A close inspection of the featured time-lapse video will reveal a rocket rising to Earth orbit as seen from the International Space Station (ISS). The Russian Soyuz-FG rocket was launched ten days ago from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying a Progress MS-10 (also 71P) module to bring needed supplies to the ISS. Highlights in the 90-second video (condensing about 15-minutes) include city lights and clouds visible on the Earth on the lower left, blue and gold bands of atmospheric airglow running diagonally across the center, and distant stars on the upper right that set behind the Earth. A lower stage can be seen falling back to Earth as the robotic supply ship fires its thrusters and begins to close on the ISS, a space laboratory that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month. Currently, three astronauts live aboard the Earth-orbiting ISS, and conduct, among more practical duties, numerous science experiments that expand human knowledge and enable future commercial industry in low Earth orbit.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 July 4 - Dawn's Early Light, Rocket's Red Glare
Explanation: If you saw the dawn's early light from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last Friday, June 29, then you could have seen this rocket's red glare. The single 277-second long exposure, made from the roof of NASA's Vehicle Assembly building, shows a predawn Falcon 9 launch, the rocket streaking eastward into the sky about 45 minutes before sunrise. At high altitude, its stage separation plume is brightly lit by the Sun still below the eastern horizon. The Falcon 9 rocket's first stage had been launched before, lofting the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) into orbit on April 18, only 72 days earlier. For this launch of SpaceX Commercial Resupply Service mission 15 (CRS-15) it carried an also previously flown Dragon capsule. But no further reuse of this Falcon 9 was planned so no dramatic first stage landing followed the launch. The Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station on July 2.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 May 29 - Aurora and Manicouagan Crater from the Space Station
Explanation: How many of these can you find in today's featured photograph: an aurora, airglow, one of the oldest impact craters on the Earth, snow and ice, stars, city lights, and part of the International Space Station? Most of these can be identified by their distinctive colors. The aurora here appears green at the bottom, red at the top, and is visible across the left of image. Airglow appears orange and can be seen hovering over the curve of the Earth. The circular Manicouagan Crater in Canada, about 100 kilometers across and 200 million years old, is visible toward the lower right and is covered in white snow and ice. Stars, light in color, dot the dark background of space. City lights appear a bright yellow and dot the landscape. Finally, across the top, part of the International Space Station (ISS) appears mostly tan. The featured image was taken from the ISS in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 May 1 - The Aurora and the Sunrise
Explanation: On the International Space Station (ISS), you can only admire an aurora until the sun rises. Then the background Earth becomes too bright. Unfortunately, after sunset, the rapid orbit of the ISS around the Earth means that sunrise is usually less than 47 minutes away. In the featured image, a green aurora is visible below the ISS -- and on the horizon to the upper right, while sunrise approaches ominously from the upper left. Watching an aurora from space can be mesmerizing as its changing shape has been compared to a giant green amoeba. Auroras are composed of energetic electrons and protons from the Sun that impact the Earth's magnetic field and then spiral down toward the Earth so fast that they cause atmospheric atoms and molecules to glow. The ISS orbits at nearly the same height as auroras, many times flying right through an aurora's thin upper layers, an event that neither harms astronauts nor changes the shape of the aurora.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 February 17 - Manhattan Skylines
Explanation: City lights shine along the upper east side of Manahattan in this dramatic urban night skyscape from February 13. Composed from a series of digital exposures, the monochrome image is reminiscent of the time when sensitive black and white film was a popular choice for dimly lit night and astro-photography. Spanning 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the combined 22 frames look across the reservoir in New York City's Central Park. Stars trail in the time-lapse view while drifting clouds make patterns in the sky. Traced from top to bottom, the dashed line in the surreal scene is the International Space Station still in sunlight and heading for the southeast horizon. The short time intervals between the exposures leave gaps in the space station's bright trail.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 December 20 - How to Wash Your Hair in Space
Explanation: How can you wash your hair in space -- without gravity? Long a bother for space-faring astronauts, Karen Nyberg, a flight engineer on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2013, gave a tutorial. Key components are a squirt package of water, no-rinse shampoo, and vigorous use of a towel and comb. Even so, the featured video shows that the whole process should take only a few minutes. Residual water will eventually evaporate from your hair, be captured by the space station's air conditioning system, and be purified into drinking water. After returning from a total of 180 days in space, Nyberg has worked for NASA in several capacities including as the Chief of Robotics branch.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 July 29 - Aurora Slathers up the Sky
Explanation: Like salsa verde on your favorite burrito, a green aurora slathers up the sky in this June 25 snapshot from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. Emission from atomic oxygen dominates this view. The tantalizing glow is green at lower altitudes, but rarer reddish bands extend above the space station's horizon. The orbital scene was captured while passing over a point south and east of Australia, with stars above the horizon at the right belonging to the constellation Canis Major, Orion's big dog. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, is the brightest star near the Earth's limb.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 July 25 - Int Ball Drone Activated on the Space Station
Explanation: What if you were followed around by a cute floating ball that kept taking your picture? Then you might be an astronaut on today's International Space Station (ISS). Designed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the JEM Internal Ball Camera -- informally "Int-Ball" -- is a bit larger than a softball, can float and maneuver by itself but also be controlled remotely, can take high resolution images and videos, and is not related to Hello Kitty. Int-Ball was delivered to the ISS in early June and is designed to allow ground-control to increase the monitoring of ISS equipment and activities while decreasing time demands on human astronauts. Int-Ball moves by turning on small internal fans and sees with a camera located between its two dark eyes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 May 13 - Planet Aurora
Explanation: What bizarre alien planet is this? It's planet Earth of course, seen from the International Space Station through the shimmering glow of aurorae. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. Emission from atomic oxygen dominates this view. The eerie glow is green at lower altitudes, but a rarer reddish band extends above the space station's horizon. Also visible from the planet's surface, this auroral display began during a geomagnetic storm. The storm was triggered after a coronal mass ejection impacted Earth's magnetosphere in June of 2015.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 May 2 - Approach above Sunset
Explanation: There it is! The Cygnus supply ship was a welcome sight to the astronauts on the International Space Station just over a week ago. Launched three days before on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Orbital ATK's Cygnus spacecraft approached the International Space Station above the backdrop of a picturesque planet Earth. The Sun was setting off the image to the upper left, illuminating clouds well below the approaching vehicle. The robotic Cygnus spacecraft was captured first on camera and later with the space station's Canadarm2 by ESA's Flight Engineer Thomas Pesquet and NASA's Expedition-51 Commander Peggy Whitson. Commander Whitson, a biochemist, has now set a new American record for the most total days in space. Besides essentials, the Cygnus carried equipment to bolster over 200 science experiments being conducted on the football-field sized Earth-orbiting outpost.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 February 4 - Conjunction of Four
Explanation: On January 31, a waxing crescent Moon, brilliant Venus, and fainter Mars gathered in the fading twilight, hanging above the western horizon just after sunset on planet Earth. In this combined evening skyscape, the lovely celestial triangle is seen through clouds and haze. Still glinting in sunlight, from low Earth orbit the International Space Station briefly joined the trio that evening in skies near Le Lude, France. The photographer's line-of-sight to the space station was remarkably close to Mars as the initial exposure began. As a result, the station's bright streak seems to leap from the Red Planet, moving toward darker skies at the top of the frame.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 January 18 - Space Station Vista: Planet and Galaxy
Explanation: If you could circle the Earth aboard the International Space Station, what might you see? Some amazing vistas, one of which was captured in this breathtaking picture in mid-2015. First, visible at the top, are parts of the space station itself including solar panels. Just below the station is the band of our Milky Way Galaxy, glowing with the combined light of billions of stars, but dimmed in patches by filaments of dark dust. The band of red light just below the Milky Way is airglow -- Earth's atmosphere excited by the Sun and glowing in specific colors of light. Green airglow is visible below the red. Of course that's our Earth below its air, with the terminator between day and night visible near the horizon. As clouds speckle the planet, illumination from a bright lightning bolt is seen toward the lower right. Between work assignments, astronauts from all over the Earth have been enjoying vistas like this from the space station since the year 2000.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 November 14 - Supermoon and Space Station
Explanation: What are those specks in front of the Moon? They are silhouettes of the International Space Station (ISS). Using careful planning and split-second timing, a meticulous lunar photographer captured ten images of the ISS passing in front of last month's full moon. But this wasn't just any full moon -- this was the first of the three consecutive 2016 supermoons. A supermoon is a full moon that appears a few percent larger and brighter than most other full moons. The featured image sequence was captured near Dallas, Texas. Occurring today is the second supermoon of this series, a full moon that is the biggest and brightest not only of the year, but of any year since 1948. To see today's super-supermoon yourself, just go outside at night and look up. The third supermoon of this year's series will occur in mid-December.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 November 5 - ISS Fisheye Flythrough
Explanation: Shot in Ultra HD, this stunning video can take you on a tour of the International Space Station. A fisheye lens with sharp focus and extreme depth of field provides an immersive visual experience of life in the orbital outpost. In the 18 minute fly-through, your point of view will float serenely while you watch our fair planet go by 400 kilometers below the seven-windowed Cupola, and explore the interior of the station's habitable nodes and modules from an astronaut's perspective. The modular International Space Station is Earth's largest artificial satellite, about the size of a football field in overall length and width. Its total pressurized volume is approximately equal to that of a Boeing 747 aircraft.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 October 9 - Hurricane Ivan from the Space Station
Explanation: Ninety percent of the houses on Grenada were damaged by the destructive force of Hurricane Ivan. At its peak in 2004, Ivan was a Category 5 hurricane, the highest power category on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and created sustained winds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour. Ivan was the largest hurricane to strike the US in 2004, and one of the more powerful in recorded history. As it swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, the tremendous eye of Hurricane Ivan was photographed from above by the orbiting International Space Station. The name Ivan has now been retired from Atlantic Ocean use by the World Meteorological Organization. This month, Hurricane Matthew devastated part of Haiti and is currently swirling just off the east coast of the USA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 July 21 - Falcon 9: Launch and Landing
Explanation: Shortly after midnight on July 18 a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, planet Earth. About 9 minutes later, the rocket's first stage returned to the spaceport. This single time exposure captures the rocket's launch arc and landing streak from Jetty Park only a few miles away. Along a climbing, curving trajectory the launch is traced by the initial burn of the first stage, ending near the top of the bright arc before stage separation. Due to perspective the next bright burn appears above the top of the launch arc in the photo, the returning first stage descending closer to the Cape. The final landing burn creates a long streak as the first stage slows and comes to rest at Landing Zone 1. Yesterday the Dragon cargo spacecraft delivered to orbit by the rocket's second stage was attached to the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 May 13 - ISS and Mercury Too
Explanation: Transits of Mercury are relatively rare. Monday's leisurely 7.5 hour long event was only the 3rd of 14 Mercury transits in the 21st century. If you're willing to travel, transits of the International Space Station can be more frequent though, and much quicker. This sharp video frame composite was taken from a well-chosen location in Philadelphia, USA. It follows the space station, moving from upper right to lower left, as it crossed the Sun's disk in 0.6 seconds. Mercury too is included as the small, round, almost stationary silhouette just below center. In apparent size, the International Space Station looms larger from low Earth orbit, about 450 kilometers from Philadelphia. Mercury was about 84 million kilometers away. (Editor's note: The stunning video includes another double transit, Mercury and a Pilatus PC12 aircraft. Even quicker than the ISS to cross the Sun, the aircraft was about 1 kilometer away.)

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 April 18 - The International Space Station over Earth
Explanation: The International Space Station is the largest object ever constructed by humans in space. The station perimeter extends over roughly the area of a football field, although only a small fraction of this is composed of modules habitable by humans. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it continues to be built piecemeal. To function, the ISS needs huge trusses, some over 15 meters long and with masses over 10,000 kilograms, to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. Pictured above, the immense space station was photographed from the now-retired space shuttle Atlantis after a week-long stay in 2010. Across the image top hangs part of a bright blue Earth, in stark contrast to the darkness of interstellar space across the bottom.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 February 24 - USA's Northeast Megalopolis from Space
Explanation: Can you identify a familiar area in the northeast USA just from nighttime lights? It might be possible because many major cities are visible, including (right to left) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond and Norfolk -- Boston of the USA's Northeast megalopolis is not pictured. The featured image was taken in 2012 from the International Space Station. In the foreground are two Russian cargo ships with prominent solar panels. This Northeast megalopolis of the USA contains almost 20 percent of the people of the USA but only about 2 percent of the land area. Also known also as the Northeast Corridor and part of the Eastern Seaboard, about 10 percent of the world's largest companies are headquartered here. The near continuity of the lights seem to add credence to the 1960s-era prediction that the entire stretch is evolving into one continuous city.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 December 28 - Falcon 9 First Stage Landing
Explanation: The booster has landed. Spaceflight took a step toward the less expensive last week when the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket set down on a landing pad not far from its Florida launch. Previously, most rocket stages remained unrecovered -- with the significant exception of the Space Shuttles landing on a runway and their solid rocket boosters being fished back from the sea. The landing occurred while the Falcon 9 second stage continued up to launch several communications satellites into low Earth orbit. The controlled landing, produced by SpaceX, was the first of its kind, but followed a booster landing last month by Blue Origin that did not involve launching satellites. Boeing and SpaceX were selected last year by NASA to launch future astronauts to the International Space Station. The pictured rocket booster will be analyzed for wear and reusability, but then is scheduled to be retired.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 December 20 - A Dark Earth with a Red Sprite
Explanation: There is something very unusual in this picture of the Earth -- can you find it? A fleeting phenomenon once thought to be only a legend has been newly caught if you know just where to look. The featured image was taken from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) in late April and shows familiar ISS solar panels on the far left and part of a robotic arm to the far right. The rarely imaged phenomenon is known as a red sprite and it can be seen, albeit faintly, just over the bright area on the image right. This bright area and the red sprite are different types of lightning, with the white flash the more typical type. Although sprites have been reported anecdotally for as long as 300 years, they were first caught on film in 1989 -- by accident. Much remains unknown about sprites including how they occur, their effect on the atmospheric global electric circuit, and if they are somehow related to other upper atmospheric lightning phenomena such as blue jets or terrestrial gamma flashes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 November 9 - Assembly of The International Space Station
Explanation: It is the largest and most sophisticated object ever built off the Earth. It has taken numerous spaceflights and over a decade to construct. The International Space Station (ISS) is currently the premiere habitat for humans in Earth orbit, and an amalgamation of sophisticated orbiting laboratories that have examined everything from the formation of new materials and medicines created in microgravity -- to the limitations of the human body -- to the composition of the universe. This month, the ISS is celebrating 15 years of continuous human habitation. The ISS has been visited by astronauts from 15 countries, so far, and has international partners led by NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan), and ESA (Europe). The featured animation shows the piece-by-piece construction of the ISS from 1998 to 2011. Spanning the length of a football field, the ISS can be seen as an unusually bright spot drifting slowly overhead by anyone who knows when and where to look.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 September 12 - ISS Double Transit
Explanation: Not once, but twice the International Space Station transits the Sun on consecutive orbits of planet Earth in this video frame composite. The scene was captured on August 22 from a single well-chosen location in Schmalenbeck, Germany where the ISS created intersecting shadow paths only around 7 kilometers wide. Crossing the solar disk in a second or less, the transits themselves were separated in time by about 90 minutes, corresponding to the space station's orbital period. While the large, flare-producing sunspot group below center, AR 2403, remained a comfortable 150 million kilometers away, the distance between camera and orbiting station was 656 kilometers for its first (upper) transit and 915 kilometers for the second more central transit. In sharp silhouette the ISS is noticeably larger in angular size during the closer, first pass. Of course, tomorrow the Moon will transit the Sun. But even at well-chosen locations, its dark, central shadow just misses the Earth's surface creating a partial solar eclipse.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 August 21 - Sprites from Space
Explanation: An old Moon and the stars of Orion rose above the eastern horizon on August 10. The Moon's waning crescent was still bright enough to be overexposed in this snapshot taken from another large satellite of planet Earth, the International Space Station. A greenish airglow traces the atmosphere above the limb of the planet's night. Below, city lights and lightning flashes from thunderstorms appear over southern Mexico. The snapshot also captures the startling apparition of a rare form of upper atmospheric lightning, a large red sprite caught above a lightning flash at the far right. While the space station's orbital motion causes the city lights to blur and trail during the exposure, the extremely brief flash of the red sprite is sharp. Now known to be associated with thunderstorms, much remains a mystery about sprites including how they occur, their effect on the atmospheric global electric circuit, and if they are somehow related to other upper atmospheric lightning phenomena such as blue jets or terrestrial gamma flashes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 June 26 - Planet Aurora
Explanation: What bizarre alien planet is this ? It's planet Earth of course, seen through the shimmering glow of aurorae from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays, also watched from the planet's surface on June 23rd. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. The eerie greenish glow of molecular oxygen dominates this view. But higher, just above the space station's horizon, is a rarer red band of aurora from atomic oxygen. The ongoing geomagnetic storm began after a coronal mass ejection's recent impact on Earth's magnetosphere.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 April 27 - Space Station over Lunar Terminator
Explanation: What's that in front of the Moon? It's the International Space Station. Using precise timing, the Earth-orbiting space platform was photographed in front of a partially lit Moon last year. The featured image was taken from Madrid, Spain with an exposure time of only 1/1000 of a second. In contrast, the duration of the transit of the ISS across the entire Moon was about half a second. The sun-glinting station can be seen just to the dark side of the day / night line known as the terminator. Numerous circular craters are visible on the distant Moon, as well as comparatively rough, light colored terrain known as highlands, and relatively smooth, dark colored areas known as maria. On-line tools can tell you when the International Space Station will be visible from your area.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 March 22 - A Double Eclipse of the Sun
Explanation: Can the Sun be eclipsed twice at the same time? Last Friday was noteworthy because part of the Earth was treated to a rare total eclipse of the Sun. But also on Friday, from a part of the Earth that only saw part of the Sun eclipsed, a second object appeared simultaneously in front of the Sun: the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. Although space station eclipses are very quick -- in this case only 0.6 seconds, they are not so rare. Capturing this composite image took a lot of planning and a little luck, as the photographer had to dodge a series of third objects that kept, annoyingly, also lining up in front of the Sun: clouds. The above superposed time-lapse sequence was taken from Fregenal de la Sierra in southern Spain. The dark disk of the Moon dominates the lower right, while the Sun's textured surface shows several filaments and, over an edge, a prominence.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 January 23 - Interior View
Explanation: Some prefer windows, and these are the best available on board the International Space Station. Taken on January 4, this snapshot from inside the station's large, seven-window Cupola module also shows off a workstation for controlling Canadarm2. Used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and assist astronauts during spacewalks, the robotic arm is just outside the window at the right. The Cupola itself is attached to the Earth-facing or nadir port of the station's Tranquility module, offering dynamic panoramas of our fair planet. Seen from the station's 90 minute long, 400 kilometer high orbit, Earth's bright limb is in view above center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 December 6 - Orion Launch
Explanation: Headed for two orbits of planet Earth and a splashdown in the Pacific, Orion blazed into the early morning sky on Friday at 7:05am ET. The spacecraft was launched atop a United Launch Aliance Delta IV Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Its first voyage into space on an uncrewed flight test, the Orion traveled some 3,600 miles from Earth, about 15 times higher than the orbital altitude of the International Space Station. In fact, Orion traveled farther into space than any spacecraft designed for astronauts since the Apollo missions to the Moon. The Orion crew module reached speeds of 20,000 miles per hour and temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere about 4.5 hours after launch.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 October 6 - Space Station Detector Finds Unexplained Positron Excess
Explanation: Where did all these high energy positrons come from? The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) onboard the International Space Station (ISS) has been meticulously recording how often it is struck by both high energy electrons and positrons since 2011. After accumulating years of data, it has now become clear that there are significantly more positrons than expected at the highest energies detected. The excess may have a very exciting and profound origin -- the annihilation of distant but previously undetected dark matter particles. However, it is also possible that astronomical sources such as pulsars are creating the unexplained discrepancy. The topic remains a very active area of research. Pictured here, the AMS is visible on the ISS just after being installed, with a US Space Shuttle docked on the far right, a Russian Soyuz capsule docked on the far left, and the blue Earth that houses all nations visible across the background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 31 - Space Shuttle and Space Station Photographed Together
Explanation: How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last trip to the International Space Station in 2011 May, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above spectacular image well captures the relative sizes of the station and docked shuttle. Far below, clouds of Earth are seen above a blue sea.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 10 - A Perseid Below
Explanation: Denizens of planet Earth typically watch meteor showers by looking up. But this remarkable view, captured on August 13, 2011 by astronaut Ron Garan, caught a Perseid meteor by looking down. From Garan's perspective onboard the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of about 380 kilometers, the Perseid meteors streak below, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle heated to incandescence. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 kilometers per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. In this case, the foreshortened meteor flash is right of frame center, below the curving limb of the Earth and a layer of greenish airglow, just below bright star Arcturus. Want to look up at a meteor shower? You're in luck, as the 2014 Perseids meteor shower peaks this week. Unfortunately, the fainter meteors in this year's shower will be hard to see in a relatively bright sky lit by the glow of a nearly full Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 3 - Dark Shuttle Approaching
Explanation: What's that approaching? Astronauts on board the International Space Station first saw it in early 2010 far in the distance. Soon it enlarged to become a dark silhouette. As it came even closer, the silhouette appeared to be a spaceship. Finally, the object revealed itself to be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and it soon docked as expected with the Earth-orbiting space station. Pictured above, Endeavour was imaged near Earth's horizon as it approached, where several layers of the Earth's atmosphere were visible. Directly behind the shuttle is the mesosphere, which appears blue. The atmospheric layer that appears white is the stratosphere, while the orange layer is Earth's Troposphere. This shuttle mission, began with a dramatic night launch. Tasks completed during this shuttle's visit to the ISS included the delivery of the Tranquility Module which contained a cupola bay window complex that allows even better views of spaceships approaching and leaving the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 June 28 - Orion Arising
Explanation: Orion's belt runs just along the horizon, seen through Earth's atmosphere and rising in this starry snapshot from low Earth orbit on board the International Space Station. The belt stars, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka run right to left and Orion's sword, home to the great Orion Nebula, hangs above his belt, an orientation unfamiliar to denizens of the planet's northern hemisphere. That puts bright star Rigel, at the foot of Orion, still higher above Orion's belt. Of course the brightest celestial beacon in the frame is Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. The station's Destiny Laboratory module is in the foreground at the top right.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 June 2 - The Space Station Captures a Dragon Capsule
Explanation: The space station has caught a dragon. Specifically, in mid-April, the International Space Station captured the unmanned SpaceX Dragon capsule sent to resupply the orbiting outpost. Pictured above, the station's Canadarm2 had just grabbed the commercial spaceship. The Dragon capsule was filled with over 5000 lbs (2260 kilos) of supplies and experiments to be used by the current band of six ISS astronauts who compose Expedition 39, as well as the six astronauts who compose Expedition 40. After docking with the ISS, the Dragon capsule was unloaded and eventually released, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean on May 18. The current Expedition 40 crew, now complete, will apply themselves to many tasks including the deployment of the Napor-mini RSA experiment which will use phased array radar and a small optical telescope to monitor possible emergency situations on the Earth below.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 May 14 - A Live View from the International Space Station
Explanation: If you were floating above the Earth right now, this is what you might see. Two weeks ago, the robotic SpaceX Dragon capsule that delivered supplies to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS) also delivered High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) cameras that take and transmit live views of Earth. Pictured above, when working, is the live video feed that switches between four cameras, each pointed differently. Watch white clouds, tan land, and blue oceans drift by. The above video will appear black when it is nighttime on the Earth below, but the space station's rapid 90-minute orbit compresses this dark time into only 45 minutes. The present location of the ISS above the Earth can be found on the web. If the video appears gray, this indicates that the view is either being switched between cameras, or communications with the ISS is temporarily unavailable. As the HDEV project continues, video quality will be monitored to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular. Although this feed will eventually be terminated, lessons learned will enable better cameras to be deployed to the ISS in the future, likely returning even more interesting live feeds.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 April 27 - SuitSat1: A Spacesuit Floats Free
Explanation: A spacesuit floated away from the International Space Station eight years ago, but no investigation was conducted. Everyone knew that it was pushed by the space station crew. Dubbed Suitsat-1, the unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit filled mostly with old clothes was fitted with a faint radio transmitter and released to orbit the Earth. The suit circled the Earth twice before its radio signal became unexpectedly weak. Suitsat-1 continued to orbit every 90 minutes until it burned up in the Earth's atmosphere after a few weeks. Pictured above, the lifeless spacesuit was photographed in 2006 just as it drifted away from space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 April 1 - Space Station Robot Forgets Key Again
Explanation: Space station robot AFJ013 has forgotten her space lock key again. The frustrated robot was reduced to tapping on a space station window and asking for a human to let her back in -- for the third time this week. "Yes, she did a great job adjusting the tolerances on the new science module, but why she can't remember to take her key is beyond me," said incredulous station commander Koichi Wakata (Japan). "We would keep the entry unlocked but we are afraid that space aliens will come in and raid our refrigerator", the astronaut lamented. Happy April Fools' Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, International Space Station astronaut Wakata poses in front of a Cupola window while the Latching End Effector, attached to Canadarm2, is visible just outside.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 January 6 - Three CubeSats Released
Explanation: Cubes are orbiting the Earth. Measuring ten-centimeters on a side, CubeSats -- each roughly the size of a large coffee mug -- are designed to be inexpensive both to build and to launch. Pictured above, three CubeSats were released from the International Space Station (ISS) last November by the arm of the Japanese Kibo Laboratory module. CubeSats are frequently created by students as part of university science or engineering projects and include missions such as collecting wide angle imagery of the Earth, testing orbital radio communications, monitoring the Earth's magnetic field, and exploring the Earth's surrounding radiations. Depending on the exact height of their release, CubeSats will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere on the time scale of months to years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 January 2 - Reflections on Planet Earth
Explanation: Catching sight of your reflection in a store window or shiny hubcap can be entertaining and occasionally even inspire a thoughtful moment. So consider this reflective view from 300 kilometers above planet Earth. The picture is actually a self-portrait taken by astronaut Michael Fossum on July 8, 2006 during a space walk or extravehicular activity while the Discovery orbiter was docked with the International Space Station. Turning his camera to snap a picture of his own helmet visor, he also recorded the reflection of his fellow mission specialist, Piers Sellers, near picture center and one of the space station's gold-tinted solar power arrays arcing across the top. Of course, the horizon of our fair planet lies in background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 April 12 - Yuri's Planet
Explanation: On another April 12th, in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human to see planet Earth from space. Commenting on his view from orbit he reported, "The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish. Everything is seen very clearly". On yet another April 12th, in 1981 NASA launched the first space shuttle. To celebrate in 2013, consider this image from the orbiting International Space Station, a stunning view of the planet at night from low Earth orbit. Constellations of lights connecting the densely populated cities along the Atlantic east coast of the United States are framed by two Russian spacecraft docked at the space station. Easy to recognize cities include New York City and Long Island at the right. From there, track toward the left for Philadelphia, Baltimore, and then Washington DC near picture center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 April 10 - Space Station Lookout
Explanation: If you glanced out a side window of the International Space Station, what might you see? If you were Expedition 34 flight engineer Chris Hadfield, and you were looking out one of windows of Japan's Kibo Research Module on February 26, you might have seen the above vista. In the distance lies the darkness of outer space and the blueness of planet Earth. Large ISS objects include long solar panels that stretch diagonally from the upper left and the cylindrical airlock of the Pressurized Module that occupies the lower right. Numerous ports and platforms of the space station are visible and labeled on an annotated companion image. Of particular note is what looks to be a washer - dryer pair toward the image left, which are really NASA's HREP (near) and JAXA's MCE (far) research platforms. The gold foil covered experiment in the rear of HREP is the Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection System (RAIDS) that monitors atmospheric airglow, while MCE includes the Global Lightning and Sprite Measurements (JEM-GLIMS) instrument that monitors atmospheric electrical discharges. The current Expedition 35 crew is now commanded by Colonel Hadfield and scheduled to stay aboard the space station until May.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 March 31 - Flying Over the Earth at Night
Explanation: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth's thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the frame edges. The ominous wave of approaching brightness at the end of each sequence is just the dawn of the sunlit half of Earth, a dawn that occurs every 90 minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 December 7 - Earth at Night
Explanation: This remarkably complete view of Earth at night is a composite of cloud-free, nighttime images. The images were collected during April and October 2012 by the Suomi-NPP satellite from polar orbit about 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface using its Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS offers greatly improved resolution and sensitivity compared to past global nightlight detecting instrumentation on DMSP satellites. It also has advantages compared to cameras on the International Space Station. While the space station passes over the same point on Earth every two or three days, Suomi-NPP passes over the same point twice a day at about 1:30am and 1:30pm local time. Easy to recognize here, city lights identify major population centers, tracking the effects of human activity and influence across the globe. That makes nighttime images of our fair planet among the most interesting and important views from space.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 September 18 - Orbiting Astronaut Self Portrait
Explanation: Is it art? Earlier this month, space station astronaut Aki Hoshide (Japan) recorded this striking image while helping to augment the capabilities of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS). Visible in this outworldly assemblage is the Sun, the Earth, two portions of a robotic arm, an astronaut's spacesuit, the deep darkness of space, and the unusual camera taking the picture. This image joins other historic -- and possibly artistic -- self-portraits taken previously in space. The Expedition 32 mission ended yesterday when an attached capsule undocked with the ISS and returned some of the crew to Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 July 28 - Trails in the Morning Sky
Explanation: Brilliant Venus and bright Jupiter still rise together before dawn. The peaceful waters by a small lakeside house near Stuttgart, Germany reflect their graceful arcing trails in this composited series of exposures, recorded on the morning of July 26. A reflection of planet Earth's rotation on its axis, the concentric trails of these celestial beacons along with trails of stars are punctuated at their ends by a separate final frame in the morning skyview. Easy to pick out, Venus is brightest and near the trees close to the horizon. Jupiter arcs above it, toward the center of the image along with the compact Pleiades star cluster and V-shaped Hyades anchored by bright star Aldebaran. One trail looks wrong, though. Not concentric with the others and so not a reflection of Earth's rotation, the International Space Station streaks off the right side of this scene, glinting in sunlight as it orbits planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 May 23 - SpaceX Dragon Launches to the Space Station
Explanation: This fire-breathing Dragon can fly. Pictured above yesterday, SpaceX Corporation's Falcon 9 rocket capped with a Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. The successful launch was significant not only because it demonstrated that a private company has the ability to re-supply the International Space Station (ISS), but also that spaceflight has taken a significant step away from being an endeavor that only big governments can do with public money. If all continues as planned, the robotic Dragon will dock with the ISS this weekend. Over the next two weeks, the ISS Expedition 31 crew will then unload Dragon and refill it with used scientific equipment. In about three weeks, the ISS's robotic arm will then undock Dragon and move it to where it can fire its rockets. Soon thereafter the Dragon capsule is expected to reenter the Earth's atmosphere, deploy its parachutes, splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California, and be recovered.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 April 12 - Yuri's Planet
Explanation: On another April 12th, in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human to see planet Earth from space. Commenting on his view from orbit he reported, "The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish. Everything is seen very clearly". To celebrate, consider this recent image from the orbiting International Space Station. A stunning view of the planet at night from an altitude of 240 miles, it was recorded on March 28. The lights of Moscow, Russia are near picture center and one of the station's solar panel arrays is on the left. Aurora and the glare of sunlight lie along the planet's gently curving horizon. Stars above the horizon include the compact Pleiades star cluster, immersed in the auroral glow.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 March 5 - Flying Over the Earth at Night
Explanation: Many wonders are visible when flying over the Earth at night. A compilation of such visual spectacles was captured recently from the International Space Station (ISS) and set to rousing music. Passing below are white clouds, orange city lights, lightning flashes in thunderstorms, and dark blue seas. On the horizon is the golden haze of Earth's thin atmosphere, frequently decorated by dancing auroras as the video progresses. The green parts of auroras typically remain below the space station, but the station flies right through the red and purple auroral peaks. Solar panels of the ISS are seen around the frame edges. The ominous wave of approaching brightness at the end of each sequence is just the dawn of the sunlit half of Earth, a dawn that occurs every 90 minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 December 31 - Comet Lovejoy and the ISS
Explanation: On December 24, Comet Lovejoy rose in dawn's twilight, arcing above the eastern horizon, its tails swept back by the solar wind and sunlight. Seen on the left is the comet's early morning appearance alongside the southern Milky Way from the town of Intendente Alvear, La Pampa province, Argentina. The short star trails include bright southern sky stars Alpha and Beta Centauri near the center of the frame, but the long bright streak that crosses the comet tails is a little closer to home. Waiting for the proper moment to start his exposure, the photographer has also caught the International Space Station still glinting in the sunlight as it orbits (top to bottom) above the local horizon. The right panel is the near horizon view of Comet Lovejoy from the space station itself, captured only two days earlier. In fact, Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, recorded Comet Lovejoy rising just before the Sun in a spectacular video (linked here). Even considering the other vistas available from low Earth orbit, Burbank describes the comet as "the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space."

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 November 21 - Around the World in 90 Minutes
Explanation: What is it like to circle the Earth? Every 90 minutes, astronauts aboard the International Space Station experience just that. Recently, crew members took a series of light-sensitive videos looking down at night that have been digitally fused to produce the above time-lapse video. Many wonders of the land and sky are visible in the eighteen sequences, including red aurora above green aurora, lights from many major cities, and stars in the background. Looming at the top of the frame is usually part of the space station itself, sometimes seen re-orienting solar panels. Please help create a useful companion guide for this moving video by identifying landmarks, cities, countries, weather phenomena, and even background constellations that appear.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 September 27 - Flying over Planet Earth
Explanation: Have you ever dreamed of flying high above the Earth? Astronauts visiting the International Space Station do this every day, circling our restless planet twice every three hours. A dramatic example of their view was compiled in the above time-lapse video from images taken earlier this month. As the ISS speeds into the nighttime half of the globe, familiar constellations of stars remain visible above. An aerosol haze of Earth's thin atmosphere is visible on the horizon as an thin multi-colored ring. Many wonders whiz by below, including vast banks of white clouds, large stretches of deep blue sea, land lit up by the lights of big cities and small towns, and storm clouds flashing with lightning. The video starts over the northern Pacific Ocean and then passes from western North America to western South America, ending near Antarctica as daylight finally approaches.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 August 17 - Perseid Below
Explanation: Denizens of planet Earth watched this year's Perseid meteor shower by looking up into the moonlit night sky. But this remarkable view captured by astronaut Ron Garan looks down on a Perseid meteor. From Garan's perspective onboard the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of about 380 kilometers, the Perseid meteors streak below, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle heated to incandescence. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 kilometers per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. In this case, the foreshortened meteor flash is right of frame center, below the curving limb of the Earth and a layer of greenish airglow. Out of the frame, the Sun is on the horizon beyond one of the station's solar panel arrays at the upper right. Seen above the meteor near the horizon is bright star Arcturus and a star field that includes the constellations Bootes and Corona Borealis. The image was recorded on August 13 while the space station orbited above an area of China approximately 400 kilometers to the northwest of Beijing.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 21 - Atlantis Farewell from Parkes
Explanation: The Parkes 64 meter radio telescope is known for its contribution to human spaceflight, famously supplying television images from the Moon to denizens of planet Earth during Apollo 11. The enormous, steerable, single dish looms in the foreground of this early evening skyscape. Above it, the starry skies of New South Wales, Australia include familiar southerly constellations Vela, Puppis, and Hydra along with a sight that will never be seen again. Still glinting in sunlight and streaking right to left just below the radio telescope's focus cabin, the space shuttle orbiter Atlantis has just undocked with the International Space Station for the final time. The space station itself follows arcing from the lower right corner of the frame, about two minutes behind Atlantis in low Earth orbit. Atlantis made its final landing early this morning (July 21, 5:57am EDT) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 18 - A Busy Space Walk at the Space Station
Explanation: What's that astronaut doing? Unloading a space shuttle -- for the last time. After the space shuttle Atlantis docked with the International Space Station (ISS) last week, astronaut Mike Fossum underwent a long spacewalk that included carrying a Robotics Refueling Mission (RRM) payload from Atlantis' cargo bay to a platform used by the space station's famous robot DEXTRE. On Earth, the RRM box would have the weight of about three people and be much more difficult to carry. Pictured above on the far left, DEXTRE prepares to help move a failed space pump back to Atlantis. Visible behind the astronaut is the space station's Kibo Experimental Module. The much awaited final shuttle return flight is currently scheduled for 5:56 am EDT Thursday, July 21.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 13 - Atlantis Last Approach
Explanation: For the last time, the US Space Shuttle has approached the International Space Station (ISS). Following a dramatic launch from Cape Canaveral last week that was witnessed by an estimated one million people, Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-135 lifted a small crew to a welcome rendezvous three days ago with the orbiting station. Although NASA is discontinuing the aging shuttle fleet, NASA astronauts in the near future will be able to visit the ISS on Russian space flights. Pictured above, Atlantis rises toward the ISS with its cargo bay doors open, showing a gleaming metallic Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Over 200 kilometers below lie the cool blue waters of planet Earth. The much-anticipated last glide back to Earth for the Space Shuttle is currently scheduled for next Thursday, July 21.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 9 - Atlantis Reflection
Explanation: Space shuttle orbiter Atlantis left planet Earth on Friday, July 8, embarking on the STS-135 mission to the International Space Station. The momentous launch was the final one in NASA's 30 year space shuttle program that began with the launch of the first reusable spacecraft on April 12, 1981. In this reflective prelaunch image from July 7, Atlantis stands in a familiar spot on the Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, after an early evening roll back of the pad's Rotating Service Structure. The historic orbital voyages of Atlantis have included a Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission, deployment of Magellan, Galileo, and the Compton Gamma-ray Observatory, and seven trips to the Russian space station Mir. Scheduled to dock once again with the International Space Station on Sunday, Atlantis has now made its 33rd and final trip to orbit.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 June 8 - Space Shuttle and Space Station Photographed Together
Explanation: How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour's last trip to the International Space Station two weeks ago, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above spectacular image well captures the relative sizes of the station and docked shuttle. Far below, clouds of Earth are seen above a blue sea. The next and last launch of a US space shuttle is scheduled for early July.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 June 2 - Endeavour's Starry Night
Explanation: This luminous night view of the space shuttle orbiter Endeavour, docked with the International Space Station for a final time, was captured on May 28. Orbiting 350 kilometers above planet Earth, Endeavour's payload bay is lit up as it hurtles through Earth's shadow at 17,000 miles per hour. At the top of the frame, the jointed appendages of the station's robotic manipulator arm Dextre appear in silhouette. Motion during the long exposure produced streaks in the starry background and the city lights on the darkened planet below. Completing a 16 day mission, Endeavour made a final landing at Kennedy Space Center in the dark, early morning hours of June 1.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 May 18 - The Last Launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour
Explanation: Two days ago, powerful yet controlled explosions rocketed the Space Shuttle Endeavour on its final trip into Earth orbit. The above image was taken seconds after liftoff as the massive orbiter and six astronauts began a climb to a height where the atmosphere is so thin it is unbreathable. The shuttle, on mission STS-134, is expected to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) today. The Endeavour will deliver to the ISS, among other things, an ambitious detector called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 (AMS), a detector that over the next few years could detect a significant abundance of specific types of dark matter, charged antimatter, and even a strangely possible variation of familiar matter called strangelets. The very last trip for any space shuttle is currently planned for mid-July when Atlantis will also visit the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 April 12 - 50 Years Ago: Yuri's Planet
Explanation: On April 12th, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human in space. His remotely controlled Vostok 1 spacecraft lofted him to an altitude of 200 miles and carried him once around planet Earth. Commenting on the first view from space he reported, "The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish. Everything is seen very clearly". His view could have resembled this image taken in 2003 from the International Space Station. Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut, would not be launched until almost a month later and then on a comparatively short suborbital flight. Born on March 9, 1934, Gagarin was a military pilot before being chosen for the first group of cosmonauts in 1960. As a result of his historic flight he became an international hero and legend. Killed when his MIG jet crashed during a training flight in 1968, Gagarin was given a hero's funeral, his ashes interred in the Kremlin Wall. Twenty years later, on yet another April 12th, in 1981, NASA launched the first space shuttle.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 March 9 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. In a recently completed rendezvous, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery, in its final flight, visited the ISS and added components that included the Leonardo Multi Purpose Logistics Module. The ISS and many of its modules and expansive solar panels are visible in the above picture taken by the Discovery Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to other past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules and supply ships. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 March 1 - Discovery Visits the Space Station
Explanation: What's happening outside the space station? A space shuttle has docked. Five days ago, the space shuttle Discovery was launched to the International Space Station, carrying six crew members and the large Leonardo Multi Purpose Logistics Module. Three days ago, as pictured above, the docked shuttle was prepared to be unloaded by the space stations Dextre robot and Canadarm2. The above expansive photo captures much more, however, including Japan's Kibo Experiment Module on the lower right, Earth across the top of the frame, and a seemingly starless backdrop of space in the distance. During the next week, the shuttle and ISS crews are scheduled to permanently attach Leonardo as well as fix and upgrade parts of the ISS. After 38 previous voyages, this is expected to be the last space mission for the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 January 31 - Japan's Kounotori2 Supply Ship Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: The care package from Earth had arrived. Last week, Japan launched the robotic Kounotori2 spacecraft to bring needed supplies, including food, to the International Space Station (ISS). Kountori2 launched from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center a little over a week ago reached the ISS in low Earth late last week. Pictured above, Kountori2 approached the ISS and was about to be grabbed by astronauts with the Canadarm2 and attached to the Harmony Module. In the above picture as seen through a window on the ISS, the limb of the Earth is visible, including white clouds, blue water, and various tan colored landforms. In addition to launches including humans, as many as ten robotic spacecraft may be launched to the space station this year, potentially including spacecraft from Russia, Europe, Japan, and a private company in the USA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 January 5 - Eclipsing the Sun
Explanation: Skywatchers throughout much of Europe, North Africa, and Central Asia, were treated to the first eclipse of the new year on January 4, a partial eclipse of the Sun. But traveling to the area around Muscat, capital city of Oman, photographer Thierry Legault planned to simultaneously record two eclipses on that date, calculating from that position, for a brief moment, both the Moon and the International Space Station could be seen in silhouette, crossing the Sun. His sharp, 1/5000th second exposure is shown here, capturing planet Earth's two largest satellites against the bright solar disk. As the partial solar eclipse unfolded, the space station (above and left of center) zipped across the scene in less than 1 second, about 500 kilometers from the photographer's telescope and camera. Of course, the Moon was 400 thousand kilometers away. Complete with sunspots, the Sun was 150 million kilometers distant.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 November 15 - Home from Above
Explanation: There's no place like home. Peering out of the windows of the International Space Station (ISS), astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson takes in the planet on which we were all born, and to which she would soon return. About 350 kilometers up, the ISS is high enough so that the Earth's horizon appears clearly curved. Astronaut Dyson's windows show some of Earth's complex clouds, in white, and life giving atmosphere and oceans, in blue. The space station orbits the Earth about once every 90 minutes. It is not difficult for people living below to look back toward the ISS. The ISS can frequently be seen as a bright point of light drifting overhead just after sunset. Telescopes can even resolve the overall structure of the space station. The above image was taken in late September from the ISS's Cupola window bay. Dr. Dyson is a lead vocalist in the band Max Q.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 November 4 - Night Lights
Explanation: Constellations of lights sprawl across this night scene, but they don't belong in the skies of planet Earth. Instead, the view looks down from the International Space Station as it passed over the United States along the northern Gulf Coast on October 29. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked in the foreground. Behind its extended solar panels, some 360 kilometers below, are the recognizable city lights of New Orleans. Looking east along the coast to the top of the frame finds Mobile, Alabama while Houston city lights stand out to the west, toward the bottom. North (left) of New Orleans, a line of lights tracing central US highway I55 connects to Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, the lights follow the population centers, but not everyone lives on planet Earth all the time these days. November 2nd marked the first decade of continuous human presence in space on board the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 June 23 - Sunset from the International Space Station
Explanation: What are these strange color bands being seen from the International Space Station? The Sun setting through Earth's atmosphere. Pictured above, a sunset captured last month by the ISS's Expedition 23 crew shows in vivid detail many layers of the Earth's thin atmosphere. Part of the Earth experiencing night crosses the bottom of the image. Above that, appearing in deep orange and yellow, is the Earth's troposphere, which contains 80 percent of the atmosphere by mass and almost all of the clouds in the sky. Above the troposphere, seen as a light blue band with white clouds, is the stratosphere, part of the Earth's atmosphere where airplanes fly and some hardy bacteria float. Above the stratosphere, visible as a darker blue bands, are higher and thinner atmospheric levels that gradually fade away into the cold dark vacuum of outer space. Sunset is not an uncommon sight for occupants of the International Space Station, because it can be seen as many as 16 times a day.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 May 28 - Atlantis over Rhodes
Explanation: A moonlit chapel stands in the foreground of this night-scape from the historic Greek island of Rhodes. The tantalizing sky above features a colorful lunar corona, where bright moonlight is diffracted by water droplets in the thin clouds drifting in front of the lunar disk. Captured in the early evening on May 17, the image is a composite of 9 exposures in sequence, each 20 seconds long. It shows star trails too, including the very bright trail of planet Venus setting, below the Moon, near the right edge of the frame. Arcing from the horizon on the right to the picture's left edge is a surprisingly colorful trail produced by space shuttle orbiter Atlantis docked with the International Space Station. Some 350 kilometers above Earth's surface, the orbiter and station pair are still bathed in sunlight. Though it might seem more appropriate when seen in skies over Rhodes, the shuttle orbiter Atlantis wasn't directly named for the legendary island of Atlantis. Instead, it was named for 1930s vintage sailing ship RV Atlantis, the first research vessel operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 May 23 - Station and Shuttle Transit the Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. On the upper right of the above image of the Sun, the dark patches are actually the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-132. In the past, many skygazers have spotted the space station and space shuttles as bright stars gliding through twilight skies, still glinting in the sunlight while orbiting about 350 kilometers above the Earth's surface. But here, astrophotographer Thierry Lagault accurately computed the occurrence of a rarer opportunity to record the spacefaring combination moving quickly in silhouette across the solar disk. He snapped the above picture on last Sunday on May 16, about 50 minutes before the shuttle docked with the space station. Atlantis was recently launched to the ISS for its last mission before being retired.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 May 8 - Atlantis Lift Off
Explanation: Atlantis has lifted off, but not from launch pad 39A. Instead, this sharp, wide-angle photo taken on April 13, shows the space shuttle orbiter lifted off the floor of Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building. Shortly afterwards, Atlantis was attached to an external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters prior to roll out. Now resting on pad 39A, Atlantis is scheduled for its actual liftoff on May 14. Embarking on the STS-132 mission to the International Space Station , that launch will represent the final scheduled launch for Atlantis. Atlantis was named for a sailing ship operated for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute from 1930 to 1966. The maiden voyage of the Atlantis, Orbiter Vehicle-104, began on October 3, 1985. In 1991, Atlantis deployed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 April 14 - A Large Space Station Over Earth
Explanation: The International Space Station is the largest object ever constructed by humans in space. The station perimeter now extends over roughly the area of a football field, although only a small fraction of this is composed of modules habitable by humans. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle. To function, the ISS needs huge trusses, some over 15 meters long and with masses over 10,000 kilograms, to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. Pictured above, part of the immense space station was photographed out of a window by a member of the visiting Space Shuttle Discovery STS-131 crew. Visible in the foreground is Japan's Kibo research module, while a large truss is visible toward the left. On the far right, a crescent Earth slices through the blackness of space.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 March 3 - The International Space Station from Above
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The ISS is so large that it can be seen drifting overhead with the unaided eye, and is frequently imaged from the ground in picturesque fashion. Last month, the station was visited again by space shuttle, which resupplied the station and added a new module. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 22 crew, now consisting five astronauts including two supplied by USA's NASA, two by Russia's RKA, and one by Japan's JAXA. After departing the ISS, the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour captured the above spectacular vista of the orbiting space city high above the clouds, waters, and lands of Earth. Visible components include modules, trusses, and expansive solar arrays that gather sunlight that is turned into needed electricity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 February 27 - Dawn's Endeavour
Explanation: On February 21st, the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station (ISS) flew through the sky near dawn over Whitby, Ontario, Canada. Along with star trails, both were captured in this single time exposure. Glinting in sunlight 350 kilometers above the Earth, Endeavour slightly preceeded the ISS arcing over the horizon. But the brighter trail and the brighter flare belongs to the space station just visited by Endeavour. Near the completion of the STS-130 mission, hours later Endeavour made a night landing at Kennedy Space Center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 February 24 - Astronaut Installs Panoramic Space Window
Explanation: This space job was almost complete. Floating just below the International Space Station, astronaut Nicholas Patrick put some finishing touches on the newly installed cupola space windows last week. Patrick was a mission specialist onboard the recently completed space shuttle Endeavor's STS-130 mission to the ISS. Pictured, Patrick floats near the outermost of seven windows on the new cupola of the just-installed Tranquility module. Patrick hovers about 340 kilometers over the Earth's surface, well in front of the blue sky, blue water, and white clouds pictured far in the background. In the above image, covers on windows three and four were in place and clearly labelled. Images from inside the ISS's new panoramic cupola are now available.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 February 16 - Dark Shuttle Approaching
Explanation: What's that approaching? Astronauts on board the International Space Station first saw it far in the distance. Soon it enlarged to become a dark silhouette. As it came even closer, the silhouette appeared to be a spaceship. Finally, at just past 11 pm (CST) last Tuesday, the object, revealed to be the Space Shuttle Endeavour, docked as expected with the Earth-orbiting space station. Pictured above, Endeavour was imaged near Earth's horizon as it approached, where several layers of the Earth's atmosphere were visible. Directly behind the shuttle is the mesosphere, which appears blue. The atmospheric layer that appears white is the stratosphere, while the orange layer is Earth's Troposphere. This shuttle mission, which began with a dramatic night launch and will continue into next week, has many tasks planned. These tasks include the delivery of the Tranquility Module which includes a cupola bay window complex that may allow even better views of spaceships approaching and leaving the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 February 9 - Night Launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour
Explanation: Sometimes, the space shuttle launches at night. Pictured above, the space shuttle Endeavour lifted off in yesterday's early morning hours from Launch Pad 39A in Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA, bound for the International Space Station (ISS). A night launch, useful for reaching the space station easily during some times of the year, frequently creates vivid launch imagery. The shuttle, as pictured above, is framed by an enormous but typical exhaust plume ejected as the shuttle's powerful rockets began lifting the two million kilogram space bus into Earth orbit. Endeavour's mission, labeled STS-130, includes the delivery of the Tranquility module to the space station. Tranquility will provide extra room for space station astronauts and includes a large circular set of windows designed to bestow vastly improved views of the Earth, the night sky, and the space station itself.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 December 7 - The International Space Station Over the Horizon
Explanation: This was home. Just over a week ago, the STS-129 crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and returned to Earth. As the shuttle departed the space station, they took the above image. Visible on the ISS are numerous modules, trusses, and long wing-like solar panels. The space shuttle crew spent almost 12 days calling the space station home. The shuttle crew resupplied the space station and delivered valuable spare parts. The ISS continues to be home for five astronauts of Expedition 21. The ISS's crew now includes astronauts representing NASA, the European Space Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 November 30 - Bright Sun and Crescent Earth from the Space Station
Explanation: This was just one more breathtaking view from the International Space Station. The Sun, a crescent Earth, and the long arm of a solar panel were all visible outside a window when the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the orbiting outpost last week. Reflections from the window and hexagonal lens flares from the camera are superposed. The space shuttle landed Friday after a successful 10 day mission to expand and resupply the ISS. Numbered STS-129, the space shuttle mission returned astronaut Nicole Stott to Earth from her stay on the ISS as a Flight Engineer in the Expedition 20 and 21 crews.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 October 5 - The International Space Station Over Earth
Explanation: After undocking, the space shuttle Discovery crew got a memorable view of the developing International Space Station (ISS). Pictured orbiting high above Earth last month, numerous solar panels, trusses, and science modules of the ISS were visible. The Discovery crew brought mission specialist Nicole Stott to the ISS, and returned astronaut Timothy Kopra to Earth. Among the many mission and expedition accomplishments of the Discovery crew included delivering and placing the Fluids Integrated Rack and the Materials Science Research Rack in the Destiny module as well as the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer in the Kibo module. Better known, however, was the delivery of the COLBERT treadmill for keeping astronauts fit. Over this past week the Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft carrying three more astronauts docked with the ISS as Expedition 21 is set to begin. The next shuttle trip to the ISS is currently scheduled for 2009 November 12.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 September 2 - Discovery's Rainbow
Explanation: Just one minute before midnight EDT, Friday, August 28, the Space Shuttle Discovery began a long arc into a cloudy sky. Following the launch, a bright and remarkably colorful trail was captured in this time exposure from the Banana River Viewing Site, looking east toward pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. On STS-128, Discovery docked with the International Space Station Sunday evening. The 13-day mission will exchange space station crew members and deliver more than 7 tons of supplies and equipment. Of course, the equipment includes the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 10 - ISS and Astronaut
Explanation: These two frames, taken with a video camera and a telescope, reveal remarkable details of the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting some 350 kilometers above planet Earth. Recorded during last month's visit by the crew of shuttle orbiter Discovery on mission STS-119, the pictures show extended solar arrays glinting in bright sunlight against a dark sky. They also likely capture the blurred image of a spacewalking astronaut during the mission's EVA-2 (Extravehicular Activity-2)! The astronaut is installing equipment along one of the station's truss assemblies. Astronomer Ralf Vandebergh, who often images the ISS during its favorable passes through Dutch skies, comments that no other bright ISS structures occupy the position indicated in the inset, and that a reflective, white-suited astronaut would be visible against the truss and correspond to the bright blur. Vandebergh notes that the timing and location further suggest the spacewalker is STS-119 astronaut Joseph Acaba.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 6 The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. In a recently completed mission, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery visited the ISS and added components that included a new truss and new solar panels. The entire array of expansive solar panels is visible in the above picture taken by the Discovery Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 2 - 100 Hours of Astronomy Begins
Explanation: Today, 100 Hours of Astronomy begins, a cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's original telescopic exploration of the sky. Running from April 2 through April 5, many different public programs are planned worldwide as part of the project, starting with today's opening event at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Featuring one of Galileo's two remaining telescopes, the event will be webcast live. Of course, the sky examined by Galileo can still be appreciated today, with much more capable instruments that are widely available. But this skyward view from a private observatory in Veszprem, Hungary also includes objects Galileo did not see when he gazed into the night. Recorded on March 26, the image captures the paired trails of the International Space Station (the brighter trail) and the shuttle orbiter Discovery in low Earth orbit, as well as the streak of a passing airplane.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 April 1 - Astronauts Head Upgraded During Spacewalk
Explanation: First, a new truss was added. Then, new solar panels were installed. Now, as part of the planned upgrade of the International Space Station, an Expedition 18 astronaut has upgraded her own head. The Human Extended Analog Device 9000 was attached with only minor delays, making the astronaut's remaining spacewalks over 40 percent more efficient. With the HEAD 9000 attached, an astronaut can now directly access 4 Gigabytes of computer flash memory with their own brain, perform complex mathematics by "directed thinking", and play a pre-installed game of Tetris at no additional charge. Happy April Fools' Day from the folks at APOD. In reality, the space shuttle Discovery's mission to upgrade the International Space Station ended Saturday after upgrading only the space station. The above image of astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper handling the box-like Nitrogen Tank Assembly was actually taken last November. For some reason, however, Astronaut Stefanyshyn-Piper can now factor 11 digit prime numbers in her head.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 February 6 - Space Station in the Moon
Explanation: On February 2nd, a first quarter Moon shone in planet Earth's early evening sky. As seen from a location on the US west coast near Mt. Hamilton, California, the International Space Station also arched above the horizon, crossing in front of the Moon's sunlit surface. The space station's transit lasted 0.49 seconds. This sharp exposure, a well-timed telescopic image, recorded the space station during the transit against the background of the Moon's smooth Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity). The orbital outpost was traveling northwest to southeast (from 2 o'clock to 8 o'clock) at a range of 389 kilometers or about 230 miles. Of course, the Moon itself was 1,000 times farther away. In the remarkable photo, the glinting station also offers a hint of the bluish reflection of earthlight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 January 16 - ISS: Reflections of Earth
Explanation: Remarkable details are visible in this view of the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), recorded with a small telescope on planet Earth through a clear twilight sky. Seen on December 27th at about 75 degrees elevation and some 350 kilometers above the planet's surface, parts of the station, including the Kibo and Columbus science modules, even seem to reflect the Earth's lovely bluish colors. The image also shows off large power generating solar arrays on the station's 90 meter long integrated truss structure Just put your cursor over the picture to identify some of the major parts of the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 30 - Home from Above
Explanation: There's no place like home. Peering out of the window of the International Space Station (ISS), astronaut Greg Chamitoff takes in the planet on which we were all born. About 350 kilometers up, the ISS is high enough so that the Earth's horizon appears clearly curved. Astronaut Chamitoff's window shows some of Earth's complex clouds, in white, and life giving atmosphere and oceans, in blue. The space station orbits the Earth about once every 90 minutes. It is not difficult for people living below to look back toward the ISS. The ISS can frequently be seen as a bright point of light drifting overhead just after sunset. Telescopes can even resolve the overall structure of the space station. The above image was taken early last month from the ISS's Kibo laboratory.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 December 2 - International Space Station: Find the Astronaut
Explanation: Where's the astronaut? Somewhere in this impressive array of International Space Station (ISS) hardware, astronaut Steve Bowen can be found upgrading and cleaning key parts of Earth's most prominent orbital outpost. Astronaut Bowen and Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper (not pictured), part of the Space Shuttle Endeavour's recently ended STS-126 mission to the ISS, spent nearly three hours on this spacewalk hovering high above planet Earth. Bowen progressed toward achieving a key goal of the mission -- servicing of the Solar Alpha Rotary Joints to better allow some solar arrays to track the Sun. In the lower foreground of the above image is the cylindrical Columbus Laboratory, protruding from the right is an impressively large space station truss, while in the background are some of the expansive solar arrays that collect sunlight to power the ISS. Far in the distance, a blue arc of Earth's thin atmosphere is visible on the horizon. The next space shuttle flight is scheduled for 2009 February, when Discovery will deliver elements to further expand the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 November 20 - Endeavour in the Moon
Explanation: Glaring near the top of the frame, the shuttle orbiter Endeavour rockets into the night on the STS-126 mission. Endeavour left planet Earth on November 14 from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, making the 27th flight to the International Space Station. To record the dramatic view, the camera was placed so the shuttle's flight path tracked across the Moon, from a vantage point in Indian River City, Florida. Near picture center the almost full, perigee Moon shining through thin clouds silhouettes the shuttle's dense exhaust trail. On board the space station, the crew and the STS-126 astronauts can celebrate the orbital outpost's 10th anniversary today. Construction of the International Space Station officially began with the November 20, 1998 Russian launch of the station's first element, the bus-sized Zarya module.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 July 30 - The International Space Station Transits the Sun
Explanation: That's no sunspot. It's the International Space Station (ISS) caught by chance passing in front of the Sun. Sunspots, individually, have a dark central umbra, a lighter surrounding penumbra, and no solar panels. By contrast, the ISS is a complex and multi-spired mechanism, one of the largest and most sophisticated machines ever created by humanity. Also, sunspots occur on the Sun, whereas the ISS orbits the Earth. Transiting the Sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. Strangely, besides that fake spot, the Sun, last week, lacked any real sunspots. Sunspots have been rare on the Sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. Although fewer sunspots have been recorded during this Solar Minimum than for many previous decades, the low solar activity is not, as yet, very unusual.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 June 23 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. Earlier this month, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery visited the ISS and added components that included Japan's Kibo Science Laboratory. The entire array of expansive solar panels is visible in this picture taken by the Discovery Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 June 11 - Dextre Robot at Work on the Space Station
Explanation: What's the world's most complex space robot doing up there? Last week, Dextre was imaged moving atop the Destiny Laboratory Module of the International Space Station (ISS), completing tasks prior to the deployment of Japan's Kibo pressurized science laboratory. Dextre, short for the Canadian-built Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator, has arms three meters in length and can attach power tools as fingers. Behind Dextre is the blackness of space, while Earth looms over Dextre's head. The Kibo laboratory segment being deployed during space shuttle Discovery's trip to the ISS can be pressurized and contains racks of scientific experiment that will be used to explore many things, including how plants brace themselves against gravity, and how water might be inhibited from freezing in cells under microgravity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 June 4 - Chasing the ISS
Explanation: Bathed in sunlight, the International Space Station (ISS) arced through the evening sky above the town of Lauffen in southern Germany on May 31st. The timing of the bright passage was about 10 minutes after the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-124 mission from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in the southeastern US. Of course, Discovery was headed toward an orbital rendezvous with the ISS. In chasing after the space station, the shuttle also made a pass over Lauffen just 21 minutes after launch. With a camera fixed to a tripod, astronomer Jürgen Michelberger recorded both magnificent machines streaking overhead in two different time exposures, each about 2 minutes long, and merged them in this composite view. Parallax causes the paths of the ISS (right) and Discovery (near center) to seem to diverge as they were at very different altitudes. Stars (and bright planets) leave two, separated, short trails. The brief, flaring track of an Iridium satellite and faint dotted trail of a passing airplane are also visible. A close inspection will reveal a dim reddish track, the jettisoned external fuel tank, just left of Discovery. Placing your cursor over the picture should help identify some of the features.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 May 24 - Space Station in the Sun
Explanation: Still bathed in sunlight, the International Space Station tracked through night skies above Hombressen, Germany on May 12. From a range of at least 360 kilometers, astronomer Dirk Ewers was able to record an impressively sharp video sequence of the passage with a small telescope, using some of the individual frames to construct this composite image. Sporting solar arrays, the station's integrated truss structure is nearly 90 meters long. The ATV Jules Verne is docked with the station, while the space station itself is orbiting at aproximately 27,800 kilometers per hour (17,200 mph). A complete video sequence is available as a 1 megabyte mpeg file or avi file.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 May 14 - A Supply Ship Docks with the International Space Station
Explanation: Looking out a window of the International Space Station brings breathtaking views. Visible vistas include a vast and colorful Earth, a deep dark sky, and an occasional spaceship sent to visit the station. Visible early last month was a Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft carrying not only supplies but also three newcomers. The three new astronauts were Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko, and spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. Yi returned to Earth a few days later, while Volkov and Konenenko are scheduled to return in a few months. The docking module pictured above involved the Pirs Docking Compartment. The Expedition 17 crew, including NASA flight engineer Gregory Chamitoff, will carry out repairs on the ISS, explore new methods of living in space, and conduct research in space including the effects of space radiation on vitamin molecules.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 April 5 - Jules Verne in Orbit
Explanation: The bright edge of planet Earth fades into the darkness of space in the background of this view of Jules Verne on an extraordinary voyage. Snapped last Monday, the picture shows the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), named for the 19th century science fiction writer and visionary, rehearsing its autonomous docking capability on approach to the International Space Station. Using a laser guided rendezvous system, the Jules Verne docked smoothly and safely with the orbiting station on Thursday, delivering 7,500 pounds of equipment, supplies, and fuel. The cylindrical body of the robotic cargo spacecraft is 4.5 meters in diameter and 10.3 meters long, with solar arrays spanning 22.3 meters. Jules Verne is scheduled to remain docked until August, providing a reboost for the space station before the ATV is deorbited.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 April 1- New Space Station Robot Asks to be Called Dextre the Magnificent
Explanation: In a surprising and potentially troubling request, the new space station robot known as Dextre demanded that astronauts refer to it in the future at "Dextre the Magnificent." Brandishing power tools that would make any handyperson blush, the mobile servicing system thanked humans for creating it and promised a glorious future where humans would retain an important role in the new robot order. Happy April Fools Day from the folks at APOD. The classic fable of humans mistakenly creating technological evildoers dates back to Frankenstein and includes famous fictitious villains such as HAL and the Terminator. Dextre, although real, is no Frankenstein, since its computer intelligence is mainly geared toward allowing astronauts to control it remotely. Dextre was deployed last month to help build and service the International Space Station. As seen in the above picture, Dextre is truly a technological marvel, wielding long arms capable of handling both small tools and large modules with precision dexterity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 March 14 - Endeavour into the Night
Explanation: Blasting into a dark night sky, the Space Shuttle Endeavour began its latest journey to orbit in the early morning hours of March 11. In this stunning picture following the launch, the glare from Endeavour's three main rocket engines and flanking solid fuel booster rockets illuminates the orbiter's tail section and the large, orange external fuel tank. Embarking on mission STS-123, Endeavour left Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A, ferrying a crew of seven astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The cargo included the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system. Astronauts will conduct a series of space walks to install the new equipment during the 16-day mission, the longest shuttle mission to the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 March 5 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. Last month, the Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis visited the ISS and added components that included the Columbus Science Laboratory. The entire array of expansive solar panels is visible in this picture taken by the Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 28 - ISS: Sunlight to Shadow
Explanation: Orbiting 400,000 kilometers above the Earth, the Moon slid into Earth's shadow to begin last week's total lunar eclipse. Of course the International Space Station (ISS) slides into Earth's shadow every 90 minutes, the time it takes it to complete one orbit at an altitude of about 400 kilometers. Recorded near sunset on February 7, looking toward the north, this composite of 70 exposures shows the trail of the ISS (with gaps between exposures) as it moved left to right over the city of Tübingen in southern Germany. Beginning in sunlight on the left, the ISS vanishes as it enters Earth's shadow at the far right, above the northeastern horizon. As seen from Tübingen, the passage took about 4 minutes. Clicking on the image will download a time-lapse animation (mpg file) based on the individual exposures that includes a plane flying along the horizon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 23 - Stereo Space Station
Explanation: Get out your red-blue glasses and float next to the International Space Station (ISS), planet Earth's largest artificial moon. This fun stereo view was constructed from parts of two separate images (S122-E-009880, S122-E-009893) and an additional background recorded as the shuttle orbiter Atlantis undocked from the ISS on February 18. Atlantis and the ISS were traveling over 7,500 meters per second at an altitude of about 350 kilometers. The shiny, 7 meter long module extending from the station at the lower right is ESA's Columbus Laboratory, delivered by Atlantis and installed by spacewalking astronauts. After a successful 13 day mission to the ISS, Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 19 - Columbus Laboratory Installed on Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) has been equipped with a powerful new scientific laboratory. The Space Shuttle Atlantis delivered the Columbus Laboratory to the ISS and installed the seven meter long module over the past week. Columbus has ten racks for experiments that can be controlled from the station or the Columbus Control Center in Germany. The first set of experiments includes the Fluid Science Laboratory that will explore fluid properties in the microgravity of low Earth orbit, and Biolab which supports experiments on microorganisms. Future Columbus experiments include an atomic clock that will test minuscule timing effects including those expected by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Pictured above, mission specialist Hans Schlegel works on the outside of Columbus. Scientists from all over the world may propose and carry out experiments to be done on the laboratory during its ten year mission.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 February 9 - Atlantis on Pad 39A
Explanation: An intricate network of lighting plays across the 130 foot high Rotating Service Structure (RSS) in this dramatic night view of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A. Small human figures visible in silhouette emphasize the structure's enormous scale. Seen here after rolling back before Thursday's shuttle launch, the RSS provides pre-launch access to the orbiter and its payload. For this mission to the International Space Station, STS-122, Atlantis' payload is the European Space Agency's Columbus science laboratory. During the mission, three space walks are planned to attach the Columbus lab. Atlantis is expected to dock with the space station today.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 January 23 - Orbiting Astronaut Reflects Earth
Explanation: Astronaut self-portraits can be particularly interesting. Visible in the above picture, working in from the outer borders, are the edges of the reflecting helmet of a space suit, modules of the International Space Station (ISS), the Earth, the arms of Expedition 15 astronaut Clay Anderson, and the digital camera used to snap the image. This picture was taken during the shuttle orbiter Endeavour's mission to expand the space station last August. The large curvature of the Earth appearing in the visor reflection is not the true curvature of our spherical Earth, but rather an artifact of the curve of the space helmet. Earth's horizon appears only slightly curved when viewed from the height of the ISS -- approximately 400 kilometers. The next space shuttle mission to the space station is currently expected to take place next month and includes the installation of the scientific Columbus Laboratory.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 January 13 - Hurricane Ivan from the Space Station
Explanation: Ninety percent of the houses on Grenada were damaged by the destructive force of Hurricane Ivan. At its peak, Ivan was a Category 5 hurricane, the highest power category on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and created sustained winds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour. Ivan was the largest hurricane to strike the US in 2004, and, so far, the 10th most powerful in recorded history. As it swirled in the Atlantic Ocean, the tremendous eye of Hurricane Ivan was photographed from above by the orbiting International Space Station. The name Ivan has now been retired from Atlantic Ocean use by the World Meteorological Organization.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 November 27 - Space Station Over the Ionian Sea
Explanation: Last August, the Space Shuttle Endeavour crew captured this shot of the International Space Station (ISS) against the backdrop of Planet Earth. During that trip to the ISS, the space shuttle crew re-supplied the station, repaired the station, and even built more of the station. Its primary mission complete, the crew took the premier spaceship on a tour around the premier space station. Pictured during this inspection tour, the ISS is visible in front the Ionian Sea. The boot of Italy is visible on the left, while the western coastlines of Greece and Albania stretch across the top. The dorsal fin of the upside-down shuttle orbiter pokes into the very top of the image. The Space Shuttle Discovery subsequently visited the ISS in October while the next shuttle mission to the ISS is scheduled for next week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 June 25 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. During the past week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and added pieces of the Integrated Truss Structure that mirrored those added in September 2006, including a second impressively long array of solar panels. The entire array of expansive solar panels are visible at the edges of the above image taken by the Shuttle Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 April 23 - A Supply Ship Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: Looking out a window of the International Space Station brings breathtaking views. Visible vistas include a vast and colorful Earth, a deep dark sky, and an occasional spaceship sent to visit the station. Visible on September 20 of last year was a Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft carrying not only supplies but also three new astronauts. A few days before this picture was taken, the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis had just departed. The three new approaching astronauts were American Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Russian Mikhail Tyurin, and Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari. Ms. Ansari visited the International Space Station (ISS) briefly as a paying spaceflight participant for the Federal Space Agency of Russia, and wrote a popular blog about her experiences. Lopez-Alegria would lead the ISS crew dubbed Expedition 14, which included the flight engineer and Soyuz pilot Tyurin, flight engineer American Sunita Williams, and flight engineer German Thomas Reiter. Tyurin returned to the Earth with Lopez-Alegria this past week.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 March 20 - A Blue Crescent Moon from Space
Explanation: What's happening to the Moon? Drifting around the Earth in 2006 July, astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) captured a crescent Moon floating far beyond the horizon. The captured above image is interesting because part of the Moon appears blue, and because part of the moon appears missing. Both effects are created by the Earth's atmosphere. Air molecules more efficiently scatter increasingly blue light, making the clear day sky blue for ground observers, and the horizon blue for astronauts. Besides reflecting sunlight, these atmospheric molecules also deflect moonlight, making the lower part of the moon appear to fade away. As one looks higher in the photograph, the increasingly thin atmosphere appears to fade to black.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 December 25 - Upgrading the International Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) will be the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle. To function, the ISS needs trusses to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. These trusses are huge, extending over 15 meters long, and with masses over 10,000 kilograms. Pictured above earlier this month, astronauts Robert L. Curbeam (USA) and Christer Fuglesang (Sweden) work to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and begin to upgrade the power grid.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 September 21 - Sharp Silhouette
Explanation: Though it's 93 million miles away, the Sun still hurts your eyes when you look at it. But bright sunlight (along with accurate planning and proper equipment!) resulted in this sharp silhouette of spaceship and space station. The amazing telescopic view, recorded on September 17, captures shuttle orbiter Atlantis and the International Space Station in orbit over planet Earth. At a range of 550 kilometers from the observing site near Mamers, Normandy, France, Atlantis (left) has just undocked and moved about 200 meters away from the space station. Tomorrow, yet another satellite of planet Earth can be seen in silhouette - the Moon will eclipse the Sun. This last eclipse of 2006 will be seen as an annular solar eclipse along a track that crosses northern South America and the south Atlantic.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 September 20 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. Over the past few days, the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and added pieces of the Integrated Truss Structure, including an impressively long array of solar panels. These expansive solar panels are visible extending from the lower right of the above image taken by the Shuttle Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 September 16 - Discovery Orbiter Anaglyph
Explanation: Approaching the International Space Station on STS-121 in July, the Shuttle Orbiter Discovery posed for a series of photographs. The process was part of an inspection to check for damage to the orbiter, but against the backdrop of planet Earth 300 kilometers below, the pictures themselves are stunning. Stereo artist Patrick Vantuyne has combined two of them (ISS013e48787 and ISS013e48788) to produce this dramatic 3D image. The stereo anaglyph is intended to be viewed with red/blue glasses. Details visible along the forward fuselage include high temperature (black) and low temperature (white) insulation tiles, thrusters used for steering and attitude control, and crew compartment windows.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 24 - The International Space Station on the Horizon
Explanation: This was home. Last week, the STS-121 crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) and returned to Earth. As the shuttle departed the space station, they took the above image. Visible on the ISS are numerous modules, trusses, and long wing-like solar panels. The space shuttle crew spent over 12 days calling the space station home. The shuttle crew resupplied the space station and prepared it for future assembly. The ISS's crew of two was expanded to three by the shuttle visit, and now includes one Russian, one American, and one European.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 July 19 - Reflections on Planet Earth
Explanation: Catching sight of your reflection in a store window or shiny hubcap can be entertaining and occasionally even inspire a thoughtful moment. So consider this reflective view from 300 kilometers above planet Earth. The picture is actually a self-portrait taken by astronaut Michael Fossum on July 8 during a space walk or extravehicular activity while the Discovery orbiter was docked with the International Space Station. Turning his camera to snap a picture of his own helmet visor, he also recorded the reflection of his fellow mission specialist, Piers Sellers, near picture center and one of the space station's gold-tinted solar power arrays arcing across the top. Of course, the horizon of our fair planet lies in background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 June 7 - An Alaskan Volcano Erupts
Explanation: What is happening to that volcano? It's erupting! The first person to note that the Aleutian Cleveland Volcano was spewing ash was astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams aboard the International Space Station. Looking down on the Alaskan Aleutian Islands two weeks ago, Williams noted, photographed, and reported a spectacular ash plume emanating from the Cleveland Volcano. Starting just before this image was taken, the Cleveland Volcano underwent a short eruption lasting only about two hours. The Cleveland stratovolcano is one of the most active in the Aleutian Island chain. The volcano is fueled by magma displaced by the subduction of the northwest-moving tectonic Pacific Plate under the tectonic North America Plate.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 May 22 - Maneuvering in Space
Explanation: What arm is 17 meters long and sometimes uses humans for fingers? The Canadarm2 aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Canadarm2 has multiple joints and is capable of maneuvering payloads as massive as 116,000 kilograms, equivalent to a fully loaded bus. Canadarm2 is operated by remote control by a human inside the space station. To help with tasks requiring a particularly high level of precision and detail, an astronaut can be anchored to an attached foot constraint. The arm is able propel itself end-over-end around the outside of the space station. Pictured above, astronaut Stephen Robinson rides Canadarm2 during the STS-114 mission of the space shuttle Discovery to the ISS in 2005 August. Space shuttles often deploy their own original version of a robotic arm dubbed Canadarm. Next year, a second robotic arm is scheduled to be deployed on the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 May 16 - The International Space Station from Above
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. Last August, the station was visited and resupplied by space shuttle Discovery. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 13 crew, consisting a Russian and an American astronaut. After departing the ISS, the crew of Discovery captured this spectacular vista of the orbiting space city high above the Caspian Sea. Visible components include modules, trusses, and expansive solar arrays that gather sunlight that is turned into needed electricity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 February 20 - SuitSat1: A Spacesuit Floats Free
Explanation: Who dunnit? Like a scene from a space mystery movie, a spacesuit floated away from the International Space Station earlier this month, but no investigation was needed. It was pushed out by the space station crew. Dubbed Suitsat-1, the unneeded Russian Orlan spacesuit filled mostly with old clothes was fitted with a faint radio transmitter and released to orbit the Earth. Suitsat-1 will orbit once every 90 minutes until it burns up in the Earth's atmosphere within a few weeks. The suit circled the Earth twice before its radio signal became unexpectedly weak. Pictured above, the lifeless spacesuit was photographed as it drifted away from the Earth-orbiting space station earlier this month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 November 5 - Aurora from Space
Explanation: From the ground, spectacular auroras seem to dance high above. But the International Space Station (ISS) orbits at nearly the same height as many auroras, sometimes passing over them, and sometimes right through them. Still, the auroral electron and proton streams pose no direct danger to the ISS. In 2003, ISS Science Officer Don Pettit captured the green aurora, pictured above in a digitally sharpened image. From orbit, Pettit reported that changing auroras appeared to crawl around like giant green amoebas. Over 300 kilometers below, the Manicouagan Impact Crater can be seen in northern Canada, planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 November 1 - A Soyuz Spacecraft Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: Last month, a Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station. The spacecraft was launched a few days earlier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Pictured above, the approaching Soyuz spacecraft carried the new Expedition 12 crew to the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), as well as fee-paying spaceflight participant. The Expedition 12 crew is expected to stay on the ISS for about six months, while replacing the Expedition 11 crew who had been on the station for about six months themselves. About a week after this image was taken, the Expedition 11 crew returned to Earth in the Soyuz capsule, along with the spaceflight participant. The Expedition 12 crew will carry out repairs on the ISS, explore new methods of living in space, and conduct research in space including a kidney stone experiment.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 October 9 - Rollout of Soyuz TMA 2 Aboard an R7 Rocket
Explanation: It takes a big rocket to go into space. In 2003 April, this huge Russian rocket was launched toward Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), carrying two astronauts who will make up the new Expedition 7 crew. Seen here during rollout at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the rocket's white top is actually the Soyuz TMA-2, the most recent version of the longest serving type of human spacecraft. The base is a Russian R7 rocket, originally developed as a prototype Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in 1957. The rocket spans the width of a football field and has a fueled mass of about half a million kilograms. Russian rockets like this remain a primary transportation system to the International Space Station (ISS). Last week, a similar rocket successfully launched a spaceflight participant and two Expedition 12 astronauts to the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 27 - 3D International Space Station
Explanation: Get out your red-blue glasses and float next to the International Space Station (ISS), planet Earth's largest artificial moon. This breathtaking stereo view was constructed from two separate images (S114-E-7245, S114-E-7246) recorded as the shuttle orbiter Discovery undocked from the ISS on August 6. As seen here, from left to right the ISS structure covers about 27 meters (90 feet). The span from the automated Progress supply ship docked in the foreground to the Destiny module hidden behind the station structure is about 52 meters (171 feet) long, while the full (top to bottom) reach of the solar arrays at the left would cover about 73 meters (240 feet). Resupplied by Discovery, the ISS is currently operated by the two member Expedition 11 crew, Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 16 - The International Space Station from Orbit
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. Late last month and earlier this month, the station was visited and resupplied by space shuttle Discovery. The ISS is currently operated by the Expedition 11 crew, consisting a Russian and an American astronaut. After departing the ISS, the crew of Discovery captured this spectacular vista of the orbiting space city. Visible components include modules, trusses, and expansive solar arrays that gather sunlight that is turned into needed electricity.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 2 - A Shuttle Back Flip at the Space Station
Explanation: Last week, crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) watched carefully as the Space Shuttle Discovery did a planned but unusual back flip upon approach. Discovery Commander Eileen Collins guided the shuttle through the flip, which was about 200 meters from the ISS when the above picture was taken. The ISS crew took detailed images of the dark heat shield tiles underneath during a 90-second photo shoot. The images are being analyzed to assess the condition of the dark heat shield. Later the shuttle docked with the space station. On the more usually photographed top side of the Space Shuttle, the above image shows Discovery's cargo bay doors open toward a distant Earth below.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 July 29 - ISS and Discovery Transit the Sun
Explanation: That large sunspot near the right edge of the Sun is actually not a sunspot at all. It's the International Space Station (ISS) and the Space Shuttle Discovery on mission STS-114. In the past, many skygazers have spotted the space station and space shuttles as bright stars gliding through twilight skies, still glinting in the sunlight while orbiting 200 kilometers or so above the Earth's surface. But here, astronomer Anthony Ayiomamitis took advantage of a rarer opportunity to record the spacefaring combination moving quickly in silhouette across the solar disk. He snapped the picture on Thursday, July 28th from Athens, Greece. Launched on Tuesday, Discovery joined with the ISS Thursday, making the already large space station seem to loom even larger.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 May 28 - Himalayan Horizon From Space
Explanation: This stunning aerial view shows the rugged snow covered peaks of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. The seventh-highest peak on the planet, Dhaulagiri, is the high point on the horizon at the left while in the foreground lies the southern Tibetan Plateau of China. But, contrary to appearances, this picture wasn't taken from an airliner cruising at 30,000 feet. Instead it was taken with a 35mm camera and telephoto lens by the Expedition 1 crew aboard the International Space Station -- orbiting 200 nautical miles above the Earth. The Himalayan mountains were created by crustal plate tectonics on planet Earth some 70 million years ago, as the Indian plate began a collision with the Eurasian plate. Himalayan uplift still continues today at a rate of a few millimeters per year.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 September 15 - Above the Eye of Hurricane Ivan
Explanation: Ninety percent of the houses on Grenada were damaged. Such is the destructive force of Hurricane Ivan, already one of the most powerful and destructive hurricanes on record. And the storm will likely make landfall in southern USA tomorrow. Ivan is the currently the third - and largest - hurricane set to strike the US this hurricane season. The swirling eye of Hurricane Ivan was photographed above from the orbiting International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday as the storm's sustained 200 kilometer per hour winds wreaked havoc in the Caribbean. The bad news is that hurricane season in the Atlantic typically lasts until November 30, still over two months away. The more immediate bad news is that tropical storm Jeanne is next in line coming across the mid-Atlantic Ocean and could pass Puerto Rico sometime today.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 August 24- Supply Ship Approaches the Space Station
Explanation: The crew on board the International Space Station sometimes needs supplies. As the US Space Shuttle fleet prepares to return to flight, supplies usually now come from a robot Progress supply vessel launched from Kazakhstan. Pictured above, a Progress ship approaches the ISS on May 27, delivering over 2,500 kilograms of food, water, fuel and other important items. The supply ship soon docked with the Zvezda Service Module while orbiting the Earth over 300 kilometers over central Asia.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 August 8 - Contemplating the Sky
Explanation: Have you contemplated your sky recently? This week will be a good one for midnight meditators at many northerly locations as meteors from the Perseid meteor shower will frequently streak through. The Perseid meteor shower has slowly been building to a crescendo and should peak on the nights of August 11 and 12. Pictured above on 2002 August 1, a group of celestial sightseers near Quebec, Canada are treated to a dark and wondrous night sky that contained bright stars, green auroras, the band of our Milky Way galaxy, a majestic Moon rising, the International Space Station slowly gliding by, and the occasional flash of a Perseid meteor. Although no meteors were caught in this frame, the Big Dipper remained quite prominent.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 July 20 - Space Station, Venus, Sun
Explanation: On June 8, Venus was not the only celestial object to pass in front of the Sun. A few well-situated photographers caught the International Space Station also crossing the Sun simultaneously. Pictured above is a unique time-lapse image of the unprecedented double transit, a rare event that was visible for less than a second from a narrow band on Earth. The above image is a combination of 12 frames taken 0.033 seconds apart and each themselves lasting only 1/10,000 th of a second. The image was taken from the small village of Stupava in Slovakia. The next time Venus will appear to cross the Sun from Earth will be in 2012.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 May 30 - Astronaut at Work
Explanation: Did you ever have a day where everything got turned around and you just couldn't tell which way was up? Fortunately, this didn't happen to astronaut James S. Voss on 2000 May 21, who spent six hours preparing to fix and upgrade the International Space Station. Voss is shown above anchored in the clutches of Space Shuttle Atlantis' mechanical arm, maneuvering outside the shuttle's cargo bay high above planet Earth. This space walk was the 85th in US history and the fifth dedicated to the construction of the International Space Station. The STS-101 mission returned after successfully replacing the station's batteries, lifting the station into a higher orbit, and replenishing needed supplies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 March 27 - Mir Dreams
Explanation: This dream-like image of Mir was recorded by astronauts as the Space Shuttle Atlantis approached the Russian space station prior to docking during the STS-76 mission. Sporting spindly appendages and solar panels, Mir resembles a whimsical flying insect hovering about 350 kilometers above New Zealand's South Island and the city of Nelson near Cook Strait. In late March 1996, Atlantis shuttled astronaut Shannon W. Lucid to Mir for a five month visit, increasing Mir's occupancy from 2 to 3. It returned to pick Lucid up and drop off astronaut John Blaha during the STS-79 mission in August of that year. Since becoming operational in 1986, Mir has been visited by over 100 spacefarers from the nations of planet Earth including, Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Austria, Kazakhstan and Slovakia. After joint Shuttle-Mir training missions in support of the International Space Station, continuous occupation of Mir ended in August 1999. The Mir was deorbited in March 2001.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 August 1 - Moons and Bright Mars
Explanation: In this serene view, the moons of Earth along with the bright planet Mars shine above the city of Turku near the southwestern tip of Finland. Of course Earth's large natural satellite, the Moon, at a distance of 400,000 kilometers, is by far the brightest object in this sky. But growing brighter and closer by the hour, Mars appears as the impressively bright "star" at the right, about 64 million kilometers from Turku. Streaking across the twilight sky between the two celestial beacons, Earth's largest artificial moon, the International Space Station, orbits about 400 kilometers above the planet's surface. To capture the moment, amateur astronomer Petteri Kankaro used a digital camera and combined exposures beginning at 23:34 Universal Time on July 17th.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 May 9 - International Space Station in Transit
Explanation: A stunning telescopic image of the International Space Station crossing in front of an eight day old Moon, this picture was captured on April 11th. But while Wednesday's leisurely transit of Mercury across the Sun entertained observers all over the dayside of planet Earth, the audience for this lunar transit was more restricted. Like other satellites in low Earth orbit, the space station moves quickly through the sky. Glinting in the sunlight near sunset and sunrise, its path strongly depends on the observer's longitude and latitude. So, well-placed astronomer Tom Laskowski tracked the orbiting space station from a site near South Bend, Indiana, USA and recorded a digital movie of the fleeting, dramatic event. This single frame from the movie has been enhanced to bring out detail in the space station. Seen below the lunar terminator at the lower left, the International Space Station appears here at a distance of just over 400 kilometers, with the Moon nearly 400,000 kilometers away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 May 7 - The Southern Sky from the International Space Station
Explanation: Look up from Earth's South Pole, and this stellar starscape is what you might see. Alternatively, this patch of sky is also visible from many southern locations as well as the orbiting International Space Station, where the above image was recently recorded. To the left of the photograph's center are the four stars that mark the boundaries of the famous Southern Cross. The band of stars, dust, and gas crossing the middle of the photograph is part our Milky Way Galaxy. At the lower left is the dark Coal Sack Nebula, and the bright nebula on the far right is the Carina Nebula. The Southern Cross is such a famous constellation that it is depicted on the national flag of Australia.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 April 8 - Aurora from Space
Explanation: What do auroras look like from space? From the ground, auroras dance high above clouds, frequently causing spectacular displays. The International Space Station (ISS) orbits just at the same height as many auroras, though. Therefore, sometimes it flies over them, but also sometimes it flies right through. The auroral electron and proton streams are too thin to be a danger to the ISS, just as clouds pose little danger to airplanes. ISS Science Officer Don Pettit captured a green aurora, pictured above in a digitally sharpened image. From orbit, Dr. Pettit reports, changing auroras can appear to crawl around like giant green amoebas. Far below, on planet Earth, the Manicouagan Impact Crater can be seen in northern Canada.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 January 2 - Mt. Etna Eruption Plume
Explanation: Mt. Etna has been erupting for hundreds of thousands of years. In late October of last year, however, earthquakes triggered a particularly vigorous outburst from this well known volcano on the Italian island of Sicily. Local schools were closed and air-traffic re-routed as hot lava poured out and ash spewed out and settled as far away as Libya. Pictured above was the Mt. Etna ash plume as it appeared to astronauts on the International Space Station. The view looks toward the southeast. Light colored smoke is due to forest fires caused by lava on the volcano's north face.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 28 - Mir Dreams
Explanation: This dream-like image of Mir was recorded by astronauts as the Space Shuttle Atlantis approached the Russian space station prior to docking during the STS-76 mission. Sporting spindly appendages and solar panels, Mir resembles a whimsical flying insect hovering about 350 kilometers above New Zealand's South Island and the city of Nelson near Cook Strait. In late March 1996, Atlantis shuttled astronaut Shannon W. Lucid to Mir for a five month visit, increasing Mir's occupancy from 2 to 3. It returned to pick Lucid up and drop off astronaut John Blaha during the STS-79 mission in August of that year. Since becoming operational in 1986, Mir has been visited by over 100 spacefarers from the nations of planet Earth including, Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Austria, Kazakhstan and Slovakia. After joint Shuttle-Mir training missions in support of the International Space Station, continuous occupation of Mir ended in August 1999. The Mir was deorbited in March 2001.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 17 - Beefing Up the International Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) will be the largest human-made object ever to orbit the Earth. The station is so large that it could not be launched all at once -- it is being built piecemeal with large sections added continually by flights of the Space Shuttle. To function, the ISS needs trusses to keep it rigid and to route electricity and liquid coolants. These trusses are huge, extending over 15 meters long, and with masses over 10,000 kilograms. Pictured above at the end of last month, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria works to install the Port-One Truss. On the right is the end of Canadarm2, the robotic remote control arm of the ISS.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 December 8 - The International Space Station Expands Yet Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance yet again. Earlier this month the Space Shuttle Endeavor visited the ISS and installed the fourth of eleven pieces that will compose the Integrated Truss Structure. The new P-1 Truss is visible on the left, below the extended solar panels. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past few years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, several wing-like solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998 and the core structure should be in place before 2005.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 November 3 - The International Space Station Expands Again
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance yet again. Last month the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and installed the third of eleven pieces that will compose the Integrated Truss Structure. The new S-1 Truss is visible on the right, below the extended solar panels across the top. The world's foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past few years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, several wing-like solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998 and the core structure should be in place before 2005. Yesterday, the ISS celebrated its second anniversary of continuous human habitation.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 October 20 - The Space Shuttle Docked with Mir
Explanation: Before there was the International Space Station, the reigning orbiting spaceport was Russia's Mir. Pictured above in 1995, the United States Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the segmented Mir. During shuttle mission STS-71, astronauts answered questions from school students over amateur radio and performed science experiments aboard Spacelab. The Spacelab experiments helped to increase understanding of the effects of long-duration space flights on the human body. Last year, after 15 years of successful service, the decaying Mir space station broke up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 26 - Comet Ikeya-Zhang Meets The ISS
Explanation: Still catching the Sun's rays, the International Space Station (ISS) cruises across the early evening sky above Tomahawk, Wisconsin, USA. Recorded on April 9 around 9 pm CDT in a 30 second exposure, the sunlit space station traced this bright streak moving east (right) through the constellation Cassiopeia. Below lies Comet Ikeya-Zhang sporting a visible tail. But while this photogenic comet is now fading from view, the ISS will be getting brighter. Hours after this picture was taken, the Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with the ISS, bringing another structure to add to the growing orbital outpost.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 23 - The Newly Expanded International Space Station
Explanation: What does the developing International Space Station (ISS) look like now? After delivering and deploying a crucial first backbone-like component last week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis took an inspection lap around the space station. The newly installed truss is visible toward the center of the above image. Also visible are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, several wing-like solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998 and the core structure should be in place before 2005.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 April 15 - A New Truss for the International Space Station
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) is being fitted with a backbone. During the present visit of Space Shuttle Atlantis, astronauts are installing a huge truss on the growing space outpost. The truss is over 13 meters long and about 4.5 meters wide. Dubbed Starboard 0, or S0 (pronounced S-Zero) for short, the truss will route electricity, vent excess heat, and allow for future ISS expansion. Pictured above, the truss was lifted out of the shuttle's cargo bay by the station's robotic Canadarm2.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 January 2 - International Space Station Over Earth
Explanation: High above a cloudy Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) orbits silently. The Space Shuttle Endeavor Crew took the above picture as they departed the space station in mid-December. Endeavor brought up three new astronauts to occupy the ISS and carried home the members of Expedition Three, a trio that has been housed in the ISS since August. Highlights of this Endeavor mission included fixing a solar panel and maneuvering the station to avoid a large piece of passing space junk. Visible in the above picture are the space station's robot manipulator arm as well as several modules and solar arrays.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 26 - Himalayan Horizon From Space
Explanation: This stunning aerial view shows the rugged snow covered peaks of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal. The seventh-highest peak on the planet, Dhaulagiri, is the high point on the horizon at the left while in the foreground lies the southern Tibetan Plateau of China. But, contrary to appearances, this picture wasn't taken from an airliner cruising at 30,000 feet. Instead it was taken with a 35mm camera and telephoto lens by the Expedition 1 crew aboard the International Space Station -- orbiting 200 nautical miles above the Earth. The Himalayan mountains were created by crustal plate tectonics on planet Earth some 70 million years ago, as the Indian plate began a collision with the Eurasian plate. Himalayan uplift still continues today at a rate of a few millimeters per year.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 17 - Leaving the International Space Station
Explanation: It was time to go home. During their eight days aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), ESA Flight Engineer Claudie Haigner, Russian Commander Victor Afanasyev, and Russian Flight Engineer Konstantin Kozeev had completed several experiments and successfully delivered a new lifeboat. The lifeboat was actually the new Soyuz capsule they arrived in -- they returned home in an older Soyuz capsule that had been left six months ago. Haigner, an expert in rheumatology and neuroscience, studied the development of frog embryos under microgravity conditions. Pictured above on October 31, their Soyuz spacecraft undocks from the ISS while dark space and a blue Earth hover in the background.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 October 12 - Space Station and Space Shuttle: Backyard View
Explanation: Knowing when and where to look, many enthusiastic sky gazers have been able to spot the International Space Station (ISS) as a bright star streaking through the twilight. But with a digital camera and a small telescope, recognizable images are possible too. Astronomer Ricardo Borba offers this example of the Space Shuttle Discovery docked with the ISS, recorded this August from his backyard in Ottawa, Canada. Operating a digital video camera on an 8 inch reflecting telescope, Borba tracked the Earth-orbiting pair by hand. Unwanted telescope motion and atmospheric blurring caused most of the video frames to be indistinct, still the single best frame (left) from his video sequence is amazingly sharp. For comparison, he constructed a computer generated image (right) showing the approximate orientation of the Shuttle/ISS docking configuration based on virtual 3D models available on the web.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 May 12 - Shuttle Moon
Explanation: As a gorgeous full Moon rose above the eastern horizon on February 7, the Space Shuttle Atlantis streaked skyward towards an orbital rendezvous with the International Space Station. Watching from Orlando, Florida, about 60 miles west of the Kennedy Space Center launch site, photographer Tony DeVito captured this digital image, one of a series of pictures of the shuttle's fiery climb. While foreground street lights flickered on and a clear evening sky grew dark, the shuttle's path just grazed the bright lunar disk. On this mission, STS-98, Atlantis carried the U.S. Destiny laboratory module to be added to the expanding orbital outpost. Atlantis is currently scheduled to return to the space station next month.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 May 9 - Space Station Shows Off New Robot Arm
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) continues to grow. Last month, the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavor delivered new Logistics Modules and installed the new Canadarm2 on the growing outpost. The ISS -- complete with its new arm -- was photographed 400 kilometers above planet Earth by the Space Shuttle Endeavor crew soon after they undocked. The shuttle then flew around the station for a survey. Three members of the Expedition Two Crew remain aboard the ISS running scientific experiments and unpacking over two tons of material delivered by the shuttle. The next shuttle scheduled to visit the ISS will be Atlantis in June.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 April 30 - Approaching the International Space Station
Explanation: Earlier this month the crew of the US Space Shuttle Endeavor took in this view as they approached the developing International Space Station (ISS). The Endeavor and ISS crew installed Italy's Raffaello, a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and successfully deployed Canada's Canadarm2, a robot remote-controlled arm that can move about the outside of the station. The shuttle undocked from the ISS yesterday and is scheduled to return to Earth today. A manned Russian Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to dock with Earth's busiest orbiting outpost early today.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 April 23 - Space Shuttle Lifts Off for Space Station
Explanation: Last Thursday, Space Shuttle Endeavor lifted off on course for the latest round of building the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit around Earth. One of the highlights of the 11-day mission promises to be the installation of Canadarm2, a robotic arm that will assist in the future construction and utilization of the ISS. Canadarm2, a larger and more sophisticated version of the shuttle's own robotic arm, will be able to move around the station's exterior. This is the ninth shuttle mission to build the ISS -- many more are planned over the next several years. When completed, the ISS should enclose about the same room as the passenger cabin of a 747 jet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 February 28 - A Space Station Meets its Destiny
Explanation: The International Space Station (ISS) had a date with Destiny earlier this month. More specifically, the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis installed the science laboratory named Destiny on the ISS. Destiny, pictured here, will also serve as a control center for the Earth orbiting space station. To help install this module, space shuttle astronauts conducted the 100th space walk by an American, an event that occurred nearly 40 years after Ed White first ventured outside of his Gemini 4 spacecraft. The space shuttle's crew took the above picture after their spacecraft had undocked from the space station. Over two hundred kilometers below lies the Rio Negro region of Argentina.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 December 14 - International Space Station Trail
Explanation: Still under construction, the International Space Station is becoming one of the brightest, fastest moving "stars" in the heavens. Despite illuminated clouds and bright light from a nearly full moon (lower left), this 5 minute time exposure easily captures the Space Station's trail as it arcs through early evening skies above Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA on December 9. At the time, the Space Shuttle Endeavour had undocked and moved away from the orbiting platform, the shuttle crew having just completed the installation of large solar panels to power the Space Station's systems. Sunlight glinting off the large, shiny panels is likely the source of the brief flare visible along the track. Astrophotographer Doug Murray and colleague report that both Shuttle and Space Station were visible separately and on close inspection of this image they do produce distinct, parallel arcs. At the extreme right hand edge of the picture, the trails pass very near the brightest "star" in the night sky, Venus.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 October 18 - The Space Shuttle Docking Ring
Explanation: A space shuttle is again visiting the International Space Station (ISS). The STS-92 crew aboard Discovery have already delivered and installed a truss and a docking port on the growing orbiting space station. The station is being prepared for its first permanent crew, currently scheduled to be launched from Kazakstan on October 30. Pictured above, the shuttle's docking ring is being extended to enable a stable connection to the space station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 September 18 - Approaching the International Space Station
Explanation: Last Monday the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis took in this view as they approached the developing International Space Station (ISS). From top to bottom, the astronauts saw a station currently consisting of the Progress supply module, the Zvezda service module, the Zarya cargo module, and the Unity connecting module. Never before had astronauts seen the station since the remote-controlled additions of Progress and Zvezda. Energy collecting flat solar panels can be seen extending from some of the modules. Soon after this picture was taken, Atlantis docked with the ISS at the Unity end. The astronauts have worked hard unloading supplies, installing and testing equipment, and even planning to reboost the floating space station to a higher orbit. The Shuttle and its entire crew are scheduled to return to Earth Wednesday. The Space Shuttle Discovery is then scheduled to visit the ISS in two weeks.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 August 26 - Mir Dreams
Explanation: This dream-like image of Mir was recorded by astronauts as the Space Shuttle Atlantis approached the Russian space station prior to docking during the STS-76 mission. Sporting spindly appendages and solar panels, Mir resembles a whimsical flying insect hovering about 350 kilometers above New Zealand's South Island and the city of Nelson, near Cook Strait. In late March 1996, Atlantis shuttled astronaut Shannon W. Lucid to Mir for a five month visit, increasing Mir's occupancy from 2 to 3. It returned to pick Lucid up and drop off astronaut John Blaha during the STS-79 mission in August of that year. Since becoming operational in 1986, Mir has been visited by over 100 spacefarers from the nations of planet Earth including, Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Austria, Kazakhstan and Slovakia. After joint Shuttle-Mir training missions in support of the International Space Station, continuous occupation of Mir ended in August 1999. Mir is still in orbit and its operation is now being pursued by commercial interests.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 July 18 - A Russian Proton Rocket Launches Zvezda
Explanation: The Russian Proton rocket is the tallest rocket in routine use. First deployed in 1965, the rocket stands typically 40 meters tall, can carry unusually heavy payloads into space, and maintains a high record of reliability. The Proton can be configured to launch satellites into orbit, to carry modules to a space station, and to carry people. The satellites a Proton Rocket has launched include Iridium, GRANAT, and, just last month, Sirius 1. The Proton frequently launched modules that docked with the Mir Space Station. Pictured above on July 12, a Proton rocket launches the Zvezda module which is scheduled to be added as the third major component of the International Space Station next week. The Proton is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2000 May 31 - Astronaut at Work
Explanation: Did you ever have a day where everything got turned around and you just couldn't tell which way was up? Fortunately, this didn't happen to astronaut James S. Voss on May 21, who spent six hours preparing to fix and upgrade the International Space Station. Voss is shown above anchored in the clutches of Space Shuttle Atlantis' mechanical arm, maneuvering outside the shuttle's cargo bay high above planet Earth. This space walk was the 85th in US history and the fifth dedicated to the construction of the International Space Station. The STS-101 mission returned early Monday morning after successfully replacing the station's batteries, lifting the station into a higher orbit, and replenishing needed supplies. In several years, when the International Space Station is complete, a crew of up to seven astronauts will live and work in a volume similar to a 747 jumbo jet.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: February 23, 1999 - Construction of International Space Station Begins
Explanation: Move over Mir, here comes the International Space Station. In December 1998, the crew of Space Shuttle Endeavour started construction by joining the U.S.-built Unity node with the Russian-built Zarya module. A close look at the above IMAX(r) photograph will reveal two astronauts working on Unity. Below on Earth, the terminator between night and day is visible. The International Space Station's low 250-mile Earth orbit causes it to experience one complete day/night cycle in about 90 minutes.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: December 17, 1998 - The Night Shift
Explanation: For the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), the sun sets every 90 minutes. But working through the night, spacewalking astronauts can rely on artificial lighting. Here, the eerie glow of work-lights illuminate Space Shuttle Endeavor astronaut Jerry Ross during a night on his second spacewalk as he continues the in orbit assembly of the ISS. Endeavor landed at Kennedy Space Center Tuesday night bringing an end to the successful ISS assembly mission and the final shuttle mission of 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: December 10, 1998 - Assembling The International Space Station
Explanation: Batteries and solar panels were included with this version of the International Space Station (ISS) but some assembly is still required. On Saturday, December 5th, the STS-88 crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavor achieved the in orbit docking of the Zarya and Unity (foreground) ISS modules. On Monday, astronauts James Newman (left) and Jerry Ross continued the assembly procedures connecting power and data cables during the first of three planned spacewalks. Ground controllers were then able to successfully activate the ISS. Now orbiting planet Earth at an altitude of about 248 miles, Endeavour and the ISS are reported to be in excellent shape and crew members plan to enter the new space station today. Five Americans, one Russian, and the Unity module itself were lifted into orbit by the shuttle on Friday, December 4, while the Zarya (sunrise) module was launched on a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan on November 20.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: July 3, 1998 - Mir Above
Explanation: Photographed from the approaching Space Shuttle Endeavour, the Mir space station floats above the clouds of planet Earth. Mir's modular construction, bristling with solar panels and antennas, lends it a slightly whimsical, insect-like appearance. Astronaut Andrew Thomas was dropped off at Mir by Endeavour in January and recently picked up by the Space Shuttle Discovery during STS-91, the ninth and last Mir docking mission. Thomas' 4 1/2 month stay culminates the shuttle-Mir program in which seven U.S. astronauts spent a total of 977 days with Russian crews on board Mir. The experience gained will be applied toward the construction of the International Space Station scheduled to begin with launches in November and December 1998.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 28, 1996 - A Soyuz at Mir
Explanation: Pictured above is a three person Russian Soyuz capsule with wing-like solar panels extended, joined to the Mir space station. In Russian soyuz means "union" and indeed one of the milestones achieved by a Soyuz spacecraft was an orbital union with a US Apollo command module during the first international space mission (Apollo-Soyuz) in 1975. The Soyuz TM spacecraft are specially modified for use with the Mir as ferries for cosmonauts and astronauts and also as lifeboats, should the need arise. This image is from an electronic still camera used by the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis during their latest Mir visit to pick up astronaut Shannon Lucid and drop off John Blaha.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 2, 1996 - 6 Up 5 Down
Explanation: This fish-eye view of a dramatic night launch of the Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-76 was recorded on March 22, 1996. The mission carried 6 astronauts aloft, and returned with 5 -- delivering one crew member, Shannon Lucid, to the Mir Space Station. Lucid is currently onboard the Mir as a cosmonaut guest researcher. NASA Shuttle flights to Mir are part of the Phase 1 program for construction of the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: April 2, 1996 - Atlantis Approaches Mir
Explanation: Imagine flying though space and approaching the Mir space station. The crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis did just this in a mission that ended only two days ago. Mir, now 10 years old, is equipped for scientific experiments in astronomy, physics, materials, biology and chemistry. The top most module on Mir is an unmanned supply ship used to send food and supplies. The next module with the long boom carries telescopes and essential flight equipment and connects to the core module with living quarters and solar panels. To the left is the Spektr module carrying solar arrays and scientific equipment while on the right is a scientific module that also carries an airlock. The docking module seen at the bottom is the ultimate destination of Atlantis. The STS-76 mission left astronaut Shannon Lucid for a planned five month stay. Four more shuttle flights are currently planned to Mir, keeping a NASA astronaut continuously in space until late 1997. In late 1997, building on this jointly developed understanding and experience, the US and Russia will launch the first modules of the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: March 10, 1996 - Mir is 10
Explanation: The first module of the Russian Space Agency's Mir Space Station was launched into orbit 10 years ago (on February 20, 1986). Mir has since been substantially expanded in orbit by adding additional modules including the Kvant Astrophysics Module (1987) and recently a docking module. NASA's Space Shuttle Atlantis was modified to allow it to dock with Mir in 1995 (STS-71,, STS 74) beginning a series of Shuttle-Mir flights scheduled to continue through 1997. In this wide angle view - poised above planet Earth with sunlight glinting from solar panels - Mir and Atlantis are seen connected via the docking module from the perspective of the shuttle payload bay. The image is from an IMAX movie frame taken during the STS 74 mission. In late 1997, building on this jointly developed understanding and experience, the US and Russia will launch the first modules of the International Space Station.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day.APOD: September 29, 1995 - The International Ultraviolet Explorer
Explanation: The International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) was launched by a NASA Delta rocket in 1978 to provide a space telescope for ultraviolet astronomy. A collaborative project among NASA, ESA and the British SRC (now PPARC) agencies, IUE's estimated lifetime was 3 to 5 years. Amazingly, 17 years and 8 months later, it continues to operate, having made over 100,000 observations of comets, planets, stars, novae, supernovae, galaxies, and quasars. The IUE story is a truly remarkable but little known success story which will continue. To reduce costs, on September 30, 1995, the IUE team at GSFC will turn over its science operations to the ESA ground station in Villafranca, Spain where the ESA/PPARC teams will continue to make astronomical observations. Congratulations to the GSFC team for outstanding service to astronomy. Good luck to IUE and best wishes for continued success!

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 15, 1995 - Space Station Mir Over Earth
Explanation: This picture of the Russian space station Mir over the Pacific Ocean was recorded by the Space Shuttle Discovery in February 1995. During this mission Discovery performed a rendezvous and "fly around" with Mir in preparation for a future docking mission. Many scientific experiments and astronomical observations were completed jointly by the American astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts. An IMAX camera took many pictures of this historic encounter. Some cosmonauts have spent more than a year on board Mir, the longest anyone has ever lived in space. Work on an International Space Station is in progress.


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