NASA may have retired its Space Shuttle Program, but astronauts are still finding creative ways of bringing images from space down to earth.
A science educator, James Drake, merged together 600 images taken by astronauts from space since the 1960's. The photographs have been put together in a video to give the illusion of how astronauts from the International Space Station see the Earth.
The one-minute video gives you the sense that you are flying over earth yourself. It starts in the Pacific Ocean and flies over North and South America before sunrise over Antarctica.
On his blog, Drake describes the video as A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night.
He explains the visible cities; countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico, Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and the Amazon. Also visible is the Earth's ionosphere.
Meanwhile, NASA has started to take steps towards filling its Space Shuttle void as it announces a new partnership with a private firm to launch a new commercial rocket mission.
The space agency has teamed up with Alliant TechSystems (ATK) to develop and launch the Liberty rocket system that will eventually send astronauts to the International Space Station.
ATK signed an unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) that enables NASA and the Liberty program office to provide technical interaction for the launch system during the Preliminary Design Review phase of the program.