Skip to main content

Cool Cupola image looks in at astronauts looking out

The International Space Station’s Cupola module is popular among astronauts as its seven windows — six around the side and one on the top — offer the best views of Earth and beyond. It’s why NASA calls it “the window to the world.”

While us folks down here on terra firma are often treated to some of the stunning Earth imagery that astronauts snap on their cameras while gazing out from the Cupola, it’s rare to see a photograph that’s looking back toward the module.

But in recent days, NASA shared such a shot, with the delightful image (below) showing space station crew members Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins peering out from the Cupola.

Judging by the angle and comparing it with another image captured last year, it seems that the picture was taken from inside Russia’s Nauka module, which arrived at the station in July 2021.

Two astronauts inside the space station's Cupola module.
NASA Johnson

Note the presence of the external shutters that protect the Cupola’s windows from any tiny meteoroids and space debris that come its way. The shutters, which maneuver into place when the Cupola isn’t in use, also stop solar radiation from heating up the Cupola while at the same time preventing internal heat from escaping. You can see the shutters in action in the video below.

Astronaut Demonstrates the Space Observatory Cupola | ISS Video

To see the Cupola from the inside, check out this image from 2015 showing retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts, who here is wearing a pair of spectacles to protect his eyes from the sun’s rays.

Retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts inside the space station's Cupola module.
NASA

Hines and Watkins have been on the space station since April and are due to fly home aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft some time in October. During their time aboard the orbiting outpost, the pair have been working with other crew members on a slew of science experiments, and also assisting with spacewalks and managing the arrival and departure of various spacecraft. Here the Cupola also plays an important role as it contains the controller equipment for the station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, which is sometimes needed to catch visiting spacecraft to help them safely dock.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Watch SpaceX’s Crew Dragon take one of its shortest journeys on Thursday
A SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft docked at the ISS.

NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV

Four International Space Station (ISS) crew members will climb aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on Thursday and take it on a very short journey.

Read more
China’s space station was hit by space junk
China's Tiangong space station shown from above.

China's Tiangong space station shown from above. CMSA

Crew members aboard China’s space station have successfully completed repairs after a debris strike caused a partial power failure at the facility, officials of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.

Read more
Junk from the ISS fell on a house in the U.S., NASA confirms
The International Space Station.

A regular stanchion (left) and the one recovered from the NASA flight support equipment used to mount International Space Station batteries on a cargo pallet. The recovered stanchion survived reentry through Earth’s atmosphere on March 8, 2024, and impacted a home in Florida. NASA

When Alejandro Otero’s son called him on March 8 to say that something had crashed through the roof of their home, he initially thought it might have been a meteorite.

Read more