One World, One Orbit

One World, One Orbit

On October 23, 2017, from 1225 to 1410 Universal Time, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) looked down at the residents of our planet while some of us looked up. For those 105 minutes—roughly the time it takes to complete one orbit around the Earth—the ISS crew made a direct connection with people on the surface through the shared hobby of photography. They shot more than 3,000 photographs from above while citizen scientists and space enthusiasts captured pieces of the same earthly scenes from the ground.

In the images above, an astronaut captured a glimpse of the coastline near the Tuscany Region of Italy. From below, a photographer shared a view of a cathedral towering over the city of Lucca.

During the “One World, One Orbit” event, astronauts called out a location that they intended to photograph as the space station passed over; residents in each location responded by uploading photos on social media. Broad views of the world from above were mated with up-close and personal perspectives from the surface.

In the pair above, the ISS team observed the mountainous Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, while an observer on the ground photographed their neighborhood near Mount Silla in Monterrey.

On the day of the event, an orbit track map was used to map out where the ISS would be at a certain time, giving photographers time to plan for the space station overpass. Meanwhile, astronauts mapped out certain geographic locations that maximized variety in their photography. But as frequently happens when humans or satellites want a glimpse of Earth, clouds blocked the view of some locations and made them difficult to photograph.

The astronauts did get a peek (above) at part of Houston, Texas, while their colleagues at NASA’s Johnson Space Center reminded them that there is no place like home.

After the event, students and staff at the Center of Geographic Sciences in Lawrence Town, Nova Scotia (both shown above), created a pinned map featuring all of the photos taken from the ground during the October 23 orbit. Visit this page to compare the ground-based photos with the astronaut photographs taken during the event.

These astronaut photographs were acquired on October 23, 2017, with a Nikon D4 digital camera and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The images were taken by members of the Expedition 53 crew. The images have been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Andi Hollier, Hx5, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC, with Mike Carlowicz, NASA Earth Observatory.