The International Space Station (ISS) is a marvel of engineering and human ingenuity, as well as scientific achievements and international cooperation.
The facility has been orbiting Earth for two decades and was recently allowed to continue operating until at least 2030.
In addition to functioning as a space laboratory, the station’s location 250 miles above Earth also allows it to perform important observational work such as tracking the effects of climate change or monitoring natural disasters.
It’s also the perfect place to capture stunning images of Earth, but what about photos of the station itself? Such images exist of course, but the opportunities to capture the ISS from afar are quite rare as they only occur during crewed trips to and from the facility.
A rare flyby of the ISS by a crew aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon late last year provided a wonderful opportunity to capture footage of the station as it circled around Earth. Ace photographer and veteran astronaut Thomas Pesquet was among those aboard the spacecraft when it flew over the ISS before the crew’s return trip after six months aboard the station.
We’ve already seen several of Pesquet’s astonishing flyover images showing the ISS against the inky blackness of space. And this week, the European Space Agency spoiled us again by sharing a stunning photo taken from the same flight showing the ISS 250 miles above the Nile Delta in Egypt.
– ESA (@esa) January 11, 2022
What makes the image unique is that it shows the orbital installation not bathed in sunlight, but illuminated by its own lights and by night falling to Earth below.
Pesquet captured the extraordinary image using a professional Nikon D5 DSLR camera with an 80-400mm lens set at 80mm. The shutter speed was 1/5 of a second and the aperture was f / 4.5.
The French astronaut has carved out a reputation for himself as an accomplished photographer during his last mission, regularly impressing us with magnificent photos of the Earth taken from the station’s seven-window Cupola module.
But as Pesquet recently explained, finding the best landscape to photograph requires not only a good eye, but careful planning as well.
As for the night shot of the ISS, we think it’s one of the most striking images of its entire six-month mission.