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Astronaut Spots Violence Over Gaza, Asks What Extraterrestrials Would Think

Expedition 40 astronaut Alexander Gerst took this photo of the Israel and Gaza regions in July 2014 while explosions took place below (which are not visible in the photo). Credit: Alexander Gerst/Twitter

Expedition 40 astronaut Alexander Gerst took this photo of the Israel and Gaza regions in July 2014 while explosions took place below (which are not visible in the photo). Credit: Alexander Gerst/Twitter

From his perch aboard the International Space Station, Alexander Gerst took this photo this week and said he could spot explosions and rockets in the blackness below. The location made him realize things were grim: it was over the Gaza and Israel region.

After the photo went viral on Twitter (it’s been shared nearly 40,000 times to date), Gerst wrote a blog post reflecting on what he saw. He acknowledged the violence wasn’t visible in the photo, but said he could still see it.

“What came to my mind at the time of this photo was, if we ever will be visited by another species from somewhere in the universe, how would we explain to them what they might see as the very first thing when they look at our planet?” wrote Alexander Gerst in a post on the European Space Agency’s website.

“How would we explain to them the way we humans treat not only each other but also our fragile blue planet, the only home we have? I do not have an answer for that.”

Gerst described the scene as “streaks of light going forth and back over a dark Earth, occasionally lit up by orange fireballs.”

Here’s the original tweet:

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • joker365247 July 25, 2014, 10:57 PM

    Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.

    War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity, it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.

    Man is subject to innumerable pains and sorrows by the very condition of humanity, and yet, as if nature had not sown evils enough in life, we are continually adding grief to grief and aggravating the common calamity by our cruel treatment of one another.

    Humanity should question itself, once more, about the absurd and always unfair phenomenon of war, on whose stage of death and pain only remain standing the negotiating table that could and should have prevented it.

  • Uncle Fred July 26, 2014, 12:23 PM

    What would aliens think?

    They’d probably observe humans the same we we observe ants colonies fighting each other: Earth’s curious fauna fulfilling its genetic functions.

  • RUF July 26, 2014, 1:24 PM

    Nice. Inject politics into astronomy. How insipid.

    They would probably think those Israelis are righteous. They could annihilate Gaza in about a day and a half without taking casualties. But instead, they put themselves at risk and take casualties to try and reduce enemy civilian casualties.

    They might ask (as we do): “where is the humanity on the other side?”

  • We are all made of stars July 26, 2014, 4:09 PM

    @ RUF
    Reading your stupid comment one can easily assume that YOU are the one without any ounce of humanity, let alone intelligence. No matter what side you stand for, HUMAN BEINGS are being killed like rats and this is neither acceptable nor excusable by ANY standards. My apologies to any aliens reading RUF’s shameful post and please read joker365247’s again.

    To UT’s editor : RUF’s post should have been “annihilated” in the first place. Propagandist, racist and hate-filled post shouldn’t be allowed through.

    • RUF July 26, 2014, 6:35 PM

      Nothing I said was “racist” or “hate-filled.”
      Your anger has unbalanced you.

      • We are all made of stars July 27, 2014, 8:43 AM

        I suggest you read you own post but since I am not sure it will help much, here is what constitutes racism, hate and at least ignorance on your part:
        “They would probably think those Israelis are righteous” … righteous to kill is that ?
        “They could annihilate Gaza in about a day and a half without taking casualties.” … Cool, isn’t it ?
        “They might ask (as we do): “where is the humanity on the other side?” … No RUF, “WE” don’t ask such ludicrous question ! We see the Other as it is : a human being despite the many differences between all of us.
        There are 1.8 million people in Gaza questioning their humanity IS racism !

  • Ambious July 27, 2014, 4:12 PM

    That’s not what this image is showing!
    A bit of skepticism and research is the very least I would expect:
    https://twitter.com/Ambious/status/492053914988974080

    Also this:
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/astronauts-tweet-not-gaza-bombing-professor/

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