If you’ve ever dreamed about what it would be like to travel through space, here is your chance: Today NASA released some of the most stunning high-definition images of nighttime earth ever captured, along with video from the International Space Station traveling over North America and witnessing the Aurora Borealis. The videos look as if James Cameron and Terrance Malick somehow melded minds, but like religion and politics, it’s better not to talk about it. Just take a look for yourself:
The videos were captured using time-lapse photography and a Nikon D3S, according to the RAW image data. They were shot as the ISS circled the earth 240 miles above its surface. The video posted was recorded on January 29, on an orbital pass over the border of British Columbia and Washington state, by the crew of ISS Expedition 30.
Astronaut Dan Tani described the experience of looking down from his cosmic perch aboard the ISS:
“It is spectacular. It’s amazing to hold onto the International Space Station, you’re going seventeen and a half thousand miles an hour, and just sort of look down at your feet and 200 miles under your feet, there goes the coast of California and, oops, nine minutes later, there goes New York City as you’re flying over and then on your way to Europe.”
The images and videos are hosted by the Gateway to Astronaut Photography, which has compiled the most complete collection of astronaut images of earth, beginning with the Mercury missions of the early 1960s. More beautiful images and video here.
Correction: We initially posted the east coast fly-over, this west coast video was taken January 29.
Image and video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center