Monday, June 22, 2015

The ISS Symphony

The ISS, photographed by crew members of STS-119 in 2009

The international space station (ISS) is one of the greatest endeavors of modern human engineering. This 450,000 kg artificial habitable satellite is argued to be the most expensive single item ever built. It has served as home to a number of astronauts, who've used the station to perform a staggering amount of experiments in the realms of biology and chemistry, physics and materials science, and space physiology. 

Moreover, the ISS is our home-away-from-home for the time being. Until we send humans back to the moon, on to near Earth asteroids, and even onward to Venus and Mars, the ISS will serve as our furthest perch, a vantage point from which we can look back at our world and onward to the cosmos beyond. The cameras onboard the ISS are constantly filming the planet below. 

Sometimes, I like to play the livestream from the ISS while doing my work. It reminds me that even though in my tiny little corner of this world I am going about my day and focusing on my tasks at hand there is a global community around me who are all doing their own things as well. We are all working and struggling, thinking and feeling, and living as individuals, yet we are all connected through our biosphere and through our common heritage on this little rock in space.

If you feel like you could use a little perspective, then check out the ISS Symphony, a video of timelapse footage edited by Dmitry Pisanko and set to music by Ludovico Einaudi. In the video you can watch lightning, aurorae, and the lights from modern cities as they light up the globe. You can see the myriad local stars, still so distant from us in the cosmic ocean. You can see various parts of the space station as they are viewed with the globe as their backdrop. If, like me, you are inspired by our work on the ISS and the scientific and cultural relevance of this feat of modern engineering, then you most certainly will enjoy this ISS Symphony:

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