ISS Night Flight in “Real Time”

We’ve featured wonderful time-lapse videos taken from the Space Station many times and each one is amazing to watch, but here’s something a little different: by taking photos at the rate of one per second and assembling them into a time-lapse, we can get a sense of what it’s like to orbit the planet at 240 miles up, 17,500 mph… in real time. Absolutely amazing!

This video was recently uploaded to the The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, an excellent site run by the image lab at Johnson Space Center. The description of the video states:

This video was taken by the crew of Expedition 30 on board the International Space Station. The sequence of shots was taken January 30, 2012 from 06:13:36 to 06:23:09 GMT, on a pass from northern Mexico to northwest New Brunswick. This video begins looking northeast over Texas, where cities like San Antonio, Houston, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area can be seen. Continuing northeast over the Great Plains states, cities like Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and St. Louis can be easily distinguished. The pass continues over the familiar shape of the Michigan Peninsula, with Chicago at the south edge of Lake Michigan. As the ISS continues northeast, the Aurora Borealis can be seen over Canada.

And, of course, the nighttime lighting allows for an excellent view of the stars beyond, which are easily captured with the camera set to expose for Earth’s night side.

This is a great and privileged perspective on our world shared by the crew of Expedition 30, and the talented team at JSC’s Image Science & Analysis Lab. All we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy… and say, “keep ’em coming!”

Video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.

(And, as an extra treat, check out this ISS video of the northern lights over western Canada!)

13 Replies to “ISS Night Flight in “Real Time””

  1. I’m not sure if I’m missing something, but the video is made up of shots taken over the course of about 9 and a half minutes and is compressed into about 50 seconds, so it’s speed up by a factor of about 12. So what is meant by “real time” in this case?

    1. According to the JSC page: “Some of these sequences of frames were taken at the rate of one frame per second, therefore the slower speed of the video represents nearly the true speed of the International Space Station.”

      So the slower frame rate of these videos, as opposed to most previous ones, is closer to true speed… hence “real time” (note the quotes.)

      1. Obviously NASA’s PR people aren’t rocket scientists. 1 frame per second is hardly what I would call ‘real time’ unless you played it back at 1 fram per second.

  2. You say “here is something a little different” – This is of course a wonderful video, but it’s time lapse, just like all the other time lapse videos from the ISS. Your “real time” comments make no sense.

  3. Yep – 1 frame taken per second, and the frame rate is obviously a lot higher than that. Still, amazing, amazing.

  4. No matter how you look at it, it’s still a gorgeous shot. Pretty stunning seeing the 4 great lakes visible in this shot looking like some giant black abysses. And if you look closely, you can see the gap of lights tracing the outline of the St. Lawrence all the way out to the Atlantic, with Newfoundland sitting out there off shore all alone. Spectacular, even if it’s not “real time”.

  5. And another one: When I started the video, I *immediately* recognized that the speed is substantially greater than what I see when the ISS moves over my head in the night sky. So, we don’t really “get a sense of what it’s like to orbit the planet … in real time”. But, anyway, it’s amazing — if downloaded and played in slow motion. Well done versus well intended.

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