The International Space Station (ISS) has been orbiting Earth as a functional station for 20 years this month, and it’s time to celebrate as only astronauts can — with a really long timelapse video from space. The ESA has put together a fantastic 15-minute video of Earth from the ISS, but the actual length of time shown is much greater. In fact, this is the longest timelapse video ever shot in space.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst captured the video aboard the ISS on Oct. 6. It has a total of 21,375 images of Earth spread out over about 90 minutes of real time. Traveling at 28,800 kilometers per hour (17,896 mph), that’s how long it takes the station to make a full orbit of the planet. You probably don’t have time to sit through all that, but it’s a time-lapse, so you don’t have to. In the video below, the footage runs at 12.5 times actual speed.
The video starts over northern Africa with the station cruising off to look down upon central and then East Asia. It’s nighttime in these regions, so you can see the glowing lights of civilization as well as some lightning from the station. The ISS then heads across the ocean toward Australia and New Zealand. As it crosses the Pacific, you get to see the sunrise from the station’s perspective around the 10-minute mark. After that, it’s across South America, the Atlantic, and into Europe to complete its circumnavigation. You can use the handy map in the corner to track the ISS as it moves across the globe.
The station might be getting old, but it’s still one of Earth’s most important scientific achievements. Astronauts undertake research on the ISS that can’t happen anyplace else. However, the current US administration is pushing to end public funding of the ISS in the next decade, transferring operation and upkeep to private entities. There’s no telling how that would affect the ISS.
The ESA uploaded the full video to YouTube in 4K resolution. It’s no 8K video, but it’ll do. If you prefer to squirrel away the video forever, you can download the files from the ESA website. There’s a 768 x 432 resolution version that’s a mere 125MB. The full 4K resolution file is 3.02GB.
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