The best pictures of our planet taken from the orbiting Space Station

An astronaut on the International Space Station has designed a ‘tripod’ for taking
spectacular night-time pictures of Earth – quite a technical feat when you’re on board
an orbiting craft that moves at more than four miles a second.

Andre Kuipers installed ‘Nightpod’ – a motorised camera that compensates
for the hurtling speeds of the ISS, by tracking points on Earth’s surface.
The results are some of the most spectacular pictures ever taken from space.

Europe at night, as seen from 250 miles up

UK and Ireland by night, with the Aurora Borealis

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are regularly treated to a spectacular
view of cities on Earth lit up at night – ut the relative speed of the space station meant
any photos taken at night were blurred. 

In late 2002 and early 2003, however, astronaut Don Pettit, part of Expedition 6,
constructed a device called a barn-door tracker using spare parts from around the space station. 

Any amateur photographer knows the problems of taking pictures at night:
the low shutter speeds required to capture enough light make images prone to camera shake.
Blurry and unsharp pictures are the result. Professional photographers use tripods
to steady their camera and take clearer pictures.

Even if the camera is perfectly still, the Station moves so fast any images of Earth
at night will still look blurred.

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli took many breath-taking images of our planet at night
during his MagISStra mission last year, from Cupola, the European observation
module on the Space Station.
He had to estimate the correct speed to move his camera and compensate by hand,
a difficult task at the best of times.

To help astronauts take better pictures, ESA developed a motorised tripod in collaboration
with Dutch company Cosine.
Called NightPod, this device compensates for the motion of the Space Station by tracking
single points on Earth automatically.
The subject stays centred in frame so the final image is in focus.

Space Station astronaut Andre Kuipers is a prolific photographer

Kuipers inside the Space Station. The Dutch astronaut is one of the most prolific photographers on the ISS

Kamchatka Peninsula, Russian East Coast captured by ESA astronaut Andre Kuipers

The Palm and The World Islands in Dubai

The city of London, surrounded by the glow of the M25

Αναδημοσίευση από:  Daily Mail

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andre Ku...

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands looks through the Earth observation window in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station soon after arriving in a Soyuz spacecraft for several days' stay onboard the Earth-orbiting complex. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From his vantage point high above the earth in...

From his vantage point high above the earth in the International Space Station, Astronaut Ed Lu captured this broad view of Hurricane Isabel. The image, ISS007-E-14750, was taken with a 50 mm lens on a digital camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NASA astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) a...

NASA astronaut Robert L. Curbeam, Jr. (left) and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction resumes on the International Space Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deutsch: Bild vom Ausbruch des Aetna (Italien)...

Smoke of Etna volcano seen from the International Space Station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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