Recent International Space Station crews have already filmed some of the most impressive time-lapse videos ever taken in orbit, from clips of thunderstorms over Africa to a north-south pass across the Pacific Ocean.
But nearly three months into its current mission, the ISS Expedition 30 crew still isn't resting on those laurels. NASA has just released a set of stunning new videos from the crew, including this dramatic footage of a flyby over the U.S. East Coast:
The video was made using a series of still images taken during a 15-minute span on Jan. 29. It begins with the ISS southwest of Mexico, cutting a northeasterly swath across North America that includes several major cities. As NASA explains:
"This pass begins looking over Central America toward the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern United States. As the ISS travels northeast over the gulf, some southeastern United States cities can be distinguished, like New Orleans, Mobile, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. Continuing up the east coast, some northeastern states, like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City stand out brightly along the coastline."
But perhaps the highlight of the video comes toward the end, when aurora borealis shimmers in the background as the clip concludes near Newfoundland, Canada.
Another notable aspect of this video is its speed — while NASA has released many time-lapse videos from the ISS, they're often so sped-up that it's hard to get a clear sense of the space station's pace. The ISS orbits at 17,000 mph, which can look surprisingly slow when compared with the enormity of the Earth.
"Some of these sequences of frames were taken at the rate of one frame per second," NASA notes on its Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth website. "[T]herefore the slower speed of the video represents a closer resemblance to the true speed of the International Space Station than previous videos."
And while it's cool to see the ISS fly over recognizable cities at nearly its actual speed, some of NASA's other new aurora videos are at least as amazing — partly because they show the northern lights with less of the usual sped-up effect that's common in time-lapse videos (similar to this recent real-time aurora video from Norway).
This clip, for example, was filmed during two minutes on Jan. 25, as the ISS passed over southwest Canada from Vancouver to Calgary:
Here's another, filmed during a Jan. 26 pass from North Dakota to central Quebec:
Also on MNN:
- Watch: Aurora borealis in real time
- Holiday in lights: The best auroras of 2011
- Time-lapse video shows Earth from orbit
- 8 amazing auroras seen on Earth ... and beyond