Around the World in 60 Seconds: Earth from the International Space Station [Video]

Science educator James Drake built this amazing timelapse video from the perspective of the International Space Station as it flew over North and South America.

What does Earth look like from the International Space Station? It took Phileas Fogg 80 days to circumnavigate the world but, thanks to the wonders of technology, it is now possible to do it in just a minute.

Science educator James Drake has created a one-minute timelapse video of the ISS circling the globe, which provides a fascinating look at Earth from above.

Mr. Drake has created the video by combining 600 photos that are available via the Johnson Space Center’s Gateway to Astronomy Photograph of Earth, an online repository of photographs taken by astronauts.

The images are taken from the front of the ISS as it orbits the planet at night. The video starts over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica.

Among the cities lit up 220 miles below are Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco and Los Angeles as the ISS travels over the west coast of North America.  The International Space Station is the eleventh space station launched into orbit and is expected to remain in use until at least 2020.

Further south, lightning flashes over the Pacific Ocean as the space station moves over Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico and down the west coast of South America.

“Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, Mexico City,” Drake wrote in his video description.

He continued: “the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the AmazonAlso visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy.”

The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, where Mr. Drake downloaded the pictures from, has been storing over a million images from space, beginning with the Mercury missions in the early 1960s.

The website’s blurb reads: “Our database tracks the locations, supporting data, and digital images for these photographs. We process images coming down from the International Space Station on a daily basis and add them to the 1,118,120 views of the Earth already made accessible on our website.:

Mr Drake’s video has been watched more than 930,000 times since it was uploaded on September 15. Drake said he used Virtualdub to create the final movie. You can see more of James work at his blog, Infinity Imagined.

The ISS, a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit, follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and MIR space stations, as the 11th space station launched into orbit by humanity. It serves as a research laboratory that has microgravity environment in which crews conduct experiments in many fields including biology, human biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology.

The station has a unique environment for the testing of the spacecraft systems that will be required for missions to the Moon and Mars. The station is expected to remain in operation until at least 2020, and potentially to 2028, when some Russian modules will be separated to form the OPSEK space station.

The European Space Agency estimate that the cost of the station will be $140 billion dollars over 30 years. Last year the ISS marked its 10th anniversary of continuous human occupation, and it was launched almost 11 years ago, on October 31, 2000.

At the time of the anniversary, the station’s odometer read more than 1.5 billion statute miles (the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun), over the course of 57,361 orbits around the Earth. [via Daily Mail (UK)]

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