New Delhi: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured this spectacular image of Earth's night lights from space.
They took this short-lens photograph of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean. The stunning night view of the Earth was taken when ISS was passing over the island nation of Kiribati at the time, about 2600 kilometers (1,600 miles) south of Hawaii.
The photograph was acquired on August 9, 2015 by a member of the Expedition 44 crew, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 28 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center.
Knowing the exact time and the location of the ISS, scientists were able to match the star field in the photo to charts describing which stars should have been visible at that moment, explains NASA.
They identified the pattern of stars in the photo as our Milky Way galaxy (looking toward its center).
The brightest light in the image is a lightning flash that illuminated a large mass of clouds.
The space station orbits Earth about every 90 minutes, that means approximately 16 times in a day. Astronauts aboard the space station see the world at night on every orbit.