Science

A Look at India From the International Space Station

NASA astronaut Terry Virts flew over India, snapping up this serene view of the country’s east coast lit up by radiating networks of industrialisation.

In March 2015, Virts assumed command of the International Space Station, a habitable satellite in low-Earth orbit. He also spotted the disco-lights of a thunderstorm playing out over the country. The flashes are actually embedded in clouds, which aren’t visible in the darkness but give themselves away by blocking light from the ground.

Virts’s pictures bring to mind one of his more illustrious predecessors, Chris Hadfield, who had shot to fame with his picturesque documentation of life aboard and around the ISS until his retirement in mid-2013. The commanders of the ISS are responsible for managing its operation, leading the crew and coordinating science experiments.

Yet with pictures like these, the most touching aspects of their work might be to have brought the awe of space closer home. Here, the camera is flying over an aurora, the ‘curtains of light’ that form when charged particles from space ionise Earth’s upper atmosphere.