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Cosmonaut’s remarkable photo shows unusual view of ISS

A photo of the International Space Station (ISS) shared this week by Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy offers an unusual view of the orbiting laboratory.

While most images sent from the space station focus on Earth, this one, taken from Russia’s Nauka module that caused a bit of a scare when it arrived at the ISS last month, shows us a small section of the satellite that’s currently home to a crew of seven.

A section of the International Space Station.
Oleg Novitskiy: “A view of the International Space Station that is a bit unusual and new for us.” Oleg Novitskiy/Roscosmos

Perhaps most striking is the view of the Cupola observatory module, which looks surprisingly small against other parts of the space station. You can spot it at the center-right of the image.

It’s from this seven-window module that astronauts aboard the ISS capture most of their amazing Earth photos. The clear views offered by the Cupola also make it an ideal spot to monitor and assist with spacewalks and incoming spacecraft. The module was added to the space station in 2010, about a decade after humans started to live and work aboard the satellite that orbits some 250 miles above our planet.

Novitskiy’s image also shows what appears to be another Russian module as well as some of the solar panels that help to power the space station.

But that’s not all. Look directly below the Cupola and you’ll spot the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), an inflatable room that arrived at the ISS in 2016. The experimental section is about the size of a small bedroom, and it’s hoped the technology behind it could one day be used to build self-sufficient accommodation for visitors to the moon and Mars. Advantages include its light weight and ability to be transported in a compact state.

Novitskiy tweeted that even for the ISS crew, this particular view of the station is new because it comes from the recently arrived Nauka module. Nauka hit the headlines in July after its thrusters unexpectedly fired up shortly after docking, temporarily pushing the space station out of orientation. NASA and its partners are still investigating the incident to find out exactly what happened, though the space agency insists the crew aboard the ISS were never in any danger.

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