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Expedition 24′s Tracy Caldwell Dyson gazes out of the cupola. Credit: NASA
There’s a panoramic window on the International Space Station named after the observation decks that old-time train cabooses had.
The Cupola, as it’s known, includes six side windows and a big one in the center. An astronaut floating nearby can see 1,000 km of Earth below him or her. It’s the ultimate spot to keep an eye on a hurricane, or provide guidance to a crewmate wrestling the robotic Canadarm2 towards an incoming spacecraft.
Hard to believe it’s been three years since the astronauts on STS-130 installed it in February 2010. Below, check out the best of astronaut photography of or from the Cupola since that time.
From the outside, the cupola looks like a flying saucer. That’s Douglas Wheelock (Expedition 25) inside the window. Credit: NASA
A green tint from an aurora is seen out the Cupola over the southern Indian Ocean. Credit: NASA
Canadarm2 makes some moves towards Japan’s robotic H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-3) during Expedition 32. Credit: NASA
The Cupola provides a portal to 215 million years in the past: The Manicouagan impact crater in northern Québec shows up nearly in the center of the main Cupola window. Credit: NASA
The STS-131 crew somehow organizes themselves on the small window in microgravity. Pictured are Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, Naoko Yamazaki, Clayton Anderson and Stephanie Wilson. Credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Ron Garan looking down at a night view of Australia from the International Space Station’s cupola..
An Expedition 27 crewmember captured this cyclone over the north Pacific. Told you it’s a good view. Credit: NASA
The end effector — or grappler — at the end of the Space Station’s Canadarm 2 robotic arm is visible out the main window of the Cupola, with a view of our beautiful blue planet below. Credit: NASA.
STS-130′s Nicholas Patrick casually hanging out beneath the cupola after helping install it. Credit: NASA
There have also been some stunning filmed timelapses from the Cupola, such as this one:
Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for SPACE.com, Astronomers Without Borders, 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.