A French astronaut shared on Twitter a photo showing the speed with which the International Space Station is moving as it orbits the Earth, contrary to what many believe.
In his limited spare time, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) has captured an astonishing 30-second time-lapse shot of our planet, showing city lights blurring with tiny star trails in the background.
Pesquet, who is also a great photographer, kept the shutter open for 30 seconds. This exposure resulted in a night image of the Earth showing the amount of rapid movement, with the bright lines representing the path of the city lights. He explained that during that period, the International Space Station traveled 235 kilometers.
The astronaut also explained that it is difficult to get used to the idea that the International Space Station is moving at a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour (about 7.6 kilometers per second), and more than that, to reflect that number in a snapshot. “We’re so high that we’re not moving that fast,” he wrote.
The International Space Station is located 400 kilometers from the surface of the Earth and completes one orbit around it every 90 minutes. This means that it rotates about 16 times in 24 hours. However, despite its incredible speed, the astronauts who inhabit it see nothing unusual in this regard while living and working there.
“A photo from some of the experiments with the imaging technology I’ve been experimenting with,” Pesquet said in a tweet, assuring viewers that there would be “more to come.”
He noted that from the space station’s altitude of about 400 kilometers, the astronauts are “altitude enough that we don’t feel the movement at that speed.”
Pesquet has a long tradition of astronauts taking pictures of Earth. However, Earth observation is not all for fun, according to rt.
NASA uses the astronauts’ perspective to make valuable observations of launches, hurricanes, volcanoes, global warming and other phenomena from the space station, supplementing the fleet of weather satellites that can do so 24/7 from higher orbits.