Astronaut’s Eye View: Time Lapse Videos from Space

A NASA astronaut on the Space Shuttle Endeavor brought space back down to Earth. Astronaut Don Pettit took over 85 time-lapsed videos of Earth from his stint on the International Space Station to highlight features of the changing planet.

“There is phenomenology that happens on a timescale that you can’t see in real time,” he said. “It occurred to me that making time-lapse movies on the space station would bring out things that you normally don’t observe.”

Pettit also wanted to capture what it feels like to be in space. “You feel like you’re on a frontier,” he says. “I like to define a frontier as a place where your intuition does not apply. It’s a place where the answers are not in the back of the book. As a result, a frontier is a place that’s rich in discovery.”

Space has been called a frontier before, of course — “But it’s not the final frontier.” Frontiers can be anywhere, he says, from under the lens of a microscope to the bottom of the ocean. Space “will only be the final frontier when human beings stop looking at our world and wondering what’s going on.”

Here are some of our favorite time-lapsed videos of Earth from space.

Above: Out of all his footage, Pettit says this video, encompassing a sunset, a moonrise and the northern lights, is one of his favorites. The camera took one image every 15 seconds, so this 38-second video captures about 9 and a half minutes of real time. Because the space station and its crew orbit Earth once every 90 minutes, they see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.

Video: NASA/Don Pettit

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Pettit flew on space shuttle mission STS-126, a 16-day trip to the International Space Station that launched in November 2008. Among other things, Pettit and his co-crew members brought up an advanced life support system that converts urine into drinkable water.

Pettit got tips from scientists on the ground for when aurorae, the brilliant lights that dance on the Earth’s upper atmosphere in response to solar winds and magnetic storms, would be visible from space, so he knew which nights to set up his camera.

Video: NASA/Don Pettit

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2 thoughts on “Astronaut’s Eye View: Time Lapse Videos from Space

  1. Forrest Loder says:

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