There's a new shooter taking spectacular pictures from the highest vantage point possible: the International Space Station.
Almost as soon as NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock arrived at the orbital outpost, just a little more than two weeks ago, he settled into the photographer role once filled by Japanese spaceflier Soichi Noguchi. Wheelock's Twitpic account is brimming with shots looking outside as well as inside the space station. And it's not just the pictures: "Astro_Wheels" also provides a running account of what he's seeing and doing. Some examples:
• "'Don't tell me that the sky is the limit, when there are footprints on the moon...' Sure looks beautiful behind our blue planet, maybe one day we'll be daring enough to go back."
• "Me on cleaning day in the U.S. Lab. We call our vacuum cleaner 'Jaws' ... and it was my turn to wrestle the beast! I won and the Lab is clean! :-)"
• "The view from Earth orbit of the lunar eclipse during Saturday's beautiful full moon ... the eclipse in progress with the Earth's shadow moving across the surface of the moon, simply breathtaking! The Master's handiwork..."
• "I am floating through the transfer hatch to my position in the Soyuz capsule, all suited and ready to take Olympus for a spin around the block for re-docking. Would love to hear your ideas for a caption, maybe 'Did you guys see the keys?'"
If Wheelock's first two weeks on the station are any guide, we could be in for a picturesque account of life in space over the next six months. For more imagery from the International Space Station, check out the Expedition 25 photo gallery on NASA's Human Spaceflight website.
Assuming that the weather is clear and you're not dazzled by Fourth of July fireworks, you should be able to see the space station for yourself this weekend. Consult NASA's real-time sighting database to find out where and when to look.
Wheelock's aurora picture is one of the zingers we've included in our just-published Month in Space slideshow. You'll love this batch because the photographs are more colorful than usual. In fact, you may love them so much that you'll want to put bigger versions of the images on photo paper or your computer desktop. Here are Web links to the sources for this month's selections:
- Psychedelic Moon from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
- Southern lights from space, seen from the International Space Station
- Blue planet from Japan's Akatsuki probe
- Cosmic jellyfish from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
- Back to Earth from AP, with a view similar to NASA's Human Spaceflight Web
- Cotton candy in space, served up by the Hubble Space Telescope
- The spreading spill, from NASA Goddard Photo and Video ... plus updates
- Moonset over telescopes, courtesy of European Southern Observatory
- Chaos on Mars from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
- Shipment from an asteroid delivered by Reuters and JAXA
- Two moons in the night from Cassini
- Space spider from European Southern Observatory
- Bull's-eye volcano from EO-1 via Goddard Photo and Video
- Frosty Red Planet from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
- Point after touchdown from Reuters with our full story
- Clouds in volcano country from Terra via Goddard Photo and Video
- Celestial streaker from Michael Jäger
- The sun acts up, as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
- Cosmic watercolor from European Southern Observatory
- Thumbs up from Reuters, with more about the space station trio