by Dan Barstow, Education Manager for ISS National Lab, CASIS
Earth is truly a remarkable place. From the vast blue of the oceans to the mighty plumes of hurricanes, our home planet continues to amaze, astound, and inspire us. The International Space Station provides a unique vantage point for astronauts to capture some of the most amazing Earth views. The images shared from space, allow us to discover Earth in a new way and fosters a greater appreciation for the delicate beauty we enjoy everyday.
In March, we launched our #YearInSpace Photo Contest to commemorate Astronaut Scott Kelly and Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko’s historic 340-day spaceflight mission. During the mission, Kelly and his crewmates took several hundred pictures each day – including compelling photos of home planet Earth that Kelly shared on social media. The photo contest selected the top 64 photos that Kelly shared on twitter, during his year in space, and encouraged the general public to vote for their favorite. You can explore all of the #YearInSpace photos here.
The photos are gorgeous—the top 16 photos from the contest are featured in the photo above. Voters especially liked the aurora images, with their shimmering green dancing over the surface of the Earth. They also liked night lights – in the photo of Manhattan, Times Square glows incredibly bright. A couple of island photos show their beautiful shapes in the expanse of the blue ocean.
Yet the one I keep going back to shows the Cupola window, as a frame to Earth. We see Kelly’s feet dangling, as he floats above the Earth. The full horizon, the curvature of the Earth, and the stunning blues, greens and aquas of the Caribbean saturate our eyes with vivid detail.
On Earth Day – and every day – we need to think about Earth as one planet. We are so fortunate to have this marvelous world as our home. Scott Kelly and the other astronauts on the ISS help us see Earth from a global perspective. A big thank you to them for these astounding photos – from their hearts to ours.