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:
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 23, 2014