While the world gawks and gushes over new images of Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, NASA is not neglecting our own planet. Far from it: The agency on Wednesday released a new video composed of time-lapse photography of the Earth as seen by the International Space Station from its vantage point over 200 miles above the surface.
The video footage, comprised of hundreds of images taken by cameras outside and aboard the International Space Station, show numerous awe-inspiring views of the globe and natural and man-made phenomena: Aside from the glowing city lights seen at the 18-second-mark and at various points throughout, the video also shows spectacular shots of the aurora borealis (at 1:09) and lightning storms (at 1:25).
Check out the video below:
Although many of the shots used to create the video were taken by external cameras, some were also taken by the crew inside, using the relatively new SSHD-TV camera brought up by Japanese astronauts in March 2011.
Other shots through a seven-paned window come from inside the Cupola, the largest window ever launched into space, which can be shuttered with shields to protect the window panes from damage by micrometeorites.
It is through the Cupola that astronauts aboard the International Space Station position themselves in order to control the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm, in order to make repairs and to grapple and attach incoming spacecraft, such as the Russian Soyuz and Progress vessels (shown attached to the Space Station in the video at 1:58), or, more recently, the SpaceX Dragon, the first commercial spacecraft ever to complete an attachment to the space station in May.
The video isn’t the first such time lapse that NASA has released, but it may be the best yet. NASA’s Johnson Space Center is also inviting viewers to visit its Crew Observations Videos website and download their own time-lapse imagery to create their own works of art.