Here is a screenshot of a live feed looking down at Earth from the International Space Station, part of which you can see at screen right. Lots of clouds, obviously, but I'm pretty sure that's the moon above the horizon.This is a screenshot from a website shows viewers where the International Space Station is at any given moment. Above, the icon for the station shows it just starting to pass over the United States.

Basement Beat: Want to ride the International Space Station?

Answer: you can (sort of)
Ryan Lewis, Editor

If you like space and space stations and looking at the earth from space—or all three—click on this link.

The International Space Station program and the JSC Astromaterials Research & Exploration Science Directorate has set up a high definition set of cameras on the ISS, looking down at the earth.

The cameras are set up to properly see the Earth when in daylight. Sometimes the view will be a black screen because the ISS is on the night-side of the planet.

Luckily, the site also shows you where the ISS is at any given point—and, remember, you don’t have to wait too long to see the sun; the space station orbits Earth every 90 minutes. So, half of that time is spent in the sun.

The live video feed switches between four cameras, each pointed in slightly different directions.

Occasionally the feed will drop off for technical reasons or while it switches between camera views. But it’s quite a view when it’s working.

So, spend a while being Superman. Fly high above our “pale blue dot.” Bask in its glory.

And, I guess, you should also do it before everything goes to pot with the Russians and they stop sending astronauts up there for us.

That scenario notwithstanding, I understand this video feed is only a temporary project anyway. The scientists behind it are going to be testing the how the video quality is being affected “to assess the effects of high energy radiation, which types of cameras work best, and which Earth views are the most popular” according to the Astronomy Picture of the Day website.

Some quick facts about the ISS from NASA, by the way:

The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans the area of a U.S. football field, including the end zones, and weighs 924,739 pounds. The complex now has more livable room than a conventional six-bedroom house, and has two bathrooms, a gymnasium and a 360-degree bay window.

The first mission to man the ISS launched Oct. 31, 2000, and the space station has been visited by 204 individuals since then.

A total of 174 spacewalks have been conducted in support of space station assembly totaling almost 1,100 hours, or nearly 46 days.

Basement Beat is an occasional blog maintained by Allegan County News editor Ryan Lewis, who writes a regular column called "Out of the Basement Office" in that paper.

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