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Gorgeous nightscape shared by outgoing ISS astronaut

NASA is aiming to launch four more astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, October 5. Shortly after their arrival, Samantha Cristoforetti and three of her colleagues will depart the orbital outpost and return to Earth after a six-month stint in space.

Determined to enjoy the enviable view before returning to terra firma, the Italian astronaut has shared a gorgeous nightscape (below) captured from the station some 250 miles above Earth.

Starting over the U.K. before passing over France, the stunning footage continues over Europe and all the way to the Indian Ocean. The bright spots denote major urban conurbations — London, Paris, Rome, and Naples are easy to spot — while the flashes of light at the right of the picture mark unfolding storms happening far below.

“Good night from space!” Cristoforetti tweeted on Sunday. “Flying from the North Atlantic over Europe & on to Northern Africa & the Middle East until the Indian Ocean. Spectacular views in this nearly cloudless night a few days ago. Always special to fly down the boot of Italy!”

Good night from space! Flying from the North Atlantic over Europe & on to Northern Africa & the Middle East until the Indian Ocean. Spectacular views in this nearly cloudless night a few days ago. Always special to fly down the boot of #Italy! #MissionMinerva @esa @Space_Station pic.twitter.com/d76NK7KIEM

— Samantha Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) October 2, 2022

Some ISS visitors engage more on social media than others. Cristoforetti has been particularly active, sharing various insights with her half-a-million TikTok followers and one million Twitter fans about life on the station.

Her posts over the last six months have included advice for wannabe astronauts, an investigation of a mysterious bright light back on the ground, an image of a lunar eclipse as viewed from space, and a time-lapse showing how the sun sometimes doesn’t set for ISS astronauts.

Recently she showed how astronauts perform CPR in space and shared some amazing images revealing the beauty of our planet.

While astronauts aboard the space station spend much of their time working on science experiments in microgravity conditions, there’s also time to relax and have some fun, evidenced by Cristoforetti’s amusing recreation of a moment from the hit Hollywood space movie, Gravity.

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