The Big Picture does ISS

By Phil Plait | November 25, 2008 9:06 am


The Space Shuttle as seen from the space station

The Big Picture does the International Space Station. Need I say more?

Actually, yeah: the picture of astronaut Karen Nyberg cracked me. But they’re all really incredible.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Pretty pictures, Space

Comments (36)

Links to this Post

  1. La ISS cumple 10 « Hazael’s Weblog | November 26, 2008
  1. Brango

    How do we know these aren’t all faked in a zero-g aircraft? NASA can be pretty devious, I mean look at all that fake moon malarkey… wake up and smell the duped!

  2. wfr

    Great photos, indeed.

    Most of the comments on that site reveal the classic and depressingly difficult-to-eradicate confusion of the difference between weight and mass. Worse, not one of the attempts to enlighten is well written.

    We desperately need an exposition on the topic by a well regarded science writer with a reputation for critical thinking and a knack for clear explanations. Do we know anyone like that?

  3. Cheyenne

    Even though I’m against manned space travel (well, the way we are doing it right now) those pictures are jaw-droppingly stunning. Really amazing that it’s possible to launch up there and live.

    By the way, I’m officially re-thinking my objections to “manned” space travel based solely on Karen Nyberg’s hotness. I knew NASA lofted people up there, but I thought they were required to have mustaches and wear loud Rugby shirts. I didn’t know what NASA knew how to bring teh hawt :) But brung it it done.

  4. Cheyenne,

    First of all, wouldn’t that be WOmanned spaceflight? And you may have a shot: ūüėČ

  5. Trebuchet

    I’m a little puzzled by the lighting in the linked picture. The shuttle is belly-down (toward earth). The earth is lit, but the top of the shuttle is not. There’s light on the shuttle’s right wing and body (our left) that looks as if it may be artificial. Or perhaps reflecting off the open door? Shadows on the planet seem to indicate the sun is to the left. or perhaps bottom left. Is that correct?

  6. Andy Beaton

    The only thing more awesome than these pictures is standing outside after sunset and actually seeing the ISS fly overhead. That’s how you can tell we’re living in the future.

  7. Cheyenne

    Larian – Damn you! Now I also know that she’s also a Scandinavian from Minnesota (which I am as well). Now I’m going to spend the rest of my day figuring out how to get SpaceX or the Russians to launch me up there.

    I’ve got to think of some really good lines. Something involving the way the moon or the stars hit her eyes maybe. How do you hit on somebody in zero g anyway? Does it work the same as down here? I would imagine doing the somersaults in midair would be cool, but maybe the afro hair would be a negative. Net positive on the whole I’d think though.

    Oh NASA, you find the coolest things in the sky!

  8. Jason

    Re: #19… how many laptop computers does one module need?

  9. Incredible pictures. The photos of the spacewalking astronauts along the truss just show how massive the ISS is.

  10. Annette

    Larian – thanks for that link. I’m so happy to find out that she is a fellow mechanical engineering gal! Maybe there is hope for me yet… I want zero gravity ponytails too!

    Trebuchet – the lighting looks fine to me. Shadows on both the mountains and the shuttle indicate that the sun is at the bottom left and the light is just reflected off the door as you said. Although, I must admit I did a double take too.. I suppose it is because our eyes don’t normally see shadows at such an awesome angle hitting two features like that. It truly is a great shot.

    I also love the torso picture and I’m glad a lot of work is being put into the effects of radiation on the human body in space. One step closer to figuring out how we can shield ourselves for long distance manned travel!

  11. “Re: #19‚Ķ how many laptop computers does one module need?”

    LOL! The whole ISS runs on DELL laptops? ūüėÄ

    Yes the pictures are incredible.

  12. In #29, is that Hugo Drax floating away in space?

  13. Mchl

    I’ve seen this picture of Karen on NASA site, right after Kibo was installed. So back off Cheyenne! I’ve seen her first!

    Womanned space exploration is a must!

  14. Re Karen: a penny for her thoughts. :)

  15. BILL7718

    Wow, I can imagine spacewalking in the blackness of space, but when you can actually see the ground?! /boggle

    Cheyenne…in orbit you can tell her you love the way the earth hits her eyes. I bet she’s never heard that one before!

  16. I’d already seen these – they are indeed wonderful!

    Pleased to note Phil’s choice of photo for this entry was my favourite from the whole collection (the water droplet was a close second). I just love the fact that you can see mountains and shorelines, and there’s something about seeing the shuttle partly in darkness that makes it more real, in an odd way.

  17. Trebuchet

    Looking at several of these, I was once again struck, as I was while watching NASA TV lately, by the incredible clutter of the station interior. I remember noticing that on Mir and hoping our station would do better. I suppose this is partly enabled by zero-G which enables you to put things most anywhere, not just on a surface, but still…

    And I couldn’t help wishing they had identified the background terrain on a few of those.

  18. Sili

    #29 had me damn scared for a bit.

  19. BP

    Those STS-98 shots, some of the best ever of the shuttle on orbit, are here:

    And perhaps even better (at least to me) was this one:

  20. Sarcastro


    In internet years I think I’m about a jillion. And yes I know what “hope” is in Japanese.

  21. MB

    The spacesuit set adrift is very creepy to me for some reason…

  22. Crux Australis

    Cheyenne: “In space, no-one can hear you say ‘no’.”

  23. Holy crap! Unbelievably beautiful.

  24. Ian Gibson

    Cool! Now all we need is someone to list all the great science that’s taken place on the ISS!


  25. #15 looks soooooo 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  26. If the sum of all humanities knowledge gained from the ISS and the Shuttle missions is only the photos on The Big Picture it is money well spent. Awesome.

  27. IVAN3MAN

    Argos: “Re Karen: a penny for her thoughts.”

    Karen Nyberg: Uh… did I leave the stove on?

  28. csrster

    “Did those TSA bastards at security really have to confiscate my hair spray?”

  29. Ok, so it’s one of those threads now…

    “Oops, that isn’t the washing machine is it?”

  30. Mike

    I love the Big Picture links, Phil. Thanks for posting.

  31. Cheyenne

    An open letter to Nasa-

    I have a science experiment of great value for you. Rocket me, Cheyenne, up to the ISS so I can attempt to swoon teh hawtest space babe ever- Karen Nyberg. What is the value of this experiment? Well, to be honest, we’re just not going to know until the experiment is conducted. As you know, in cutting edge science, you don’t always know what you are going to find. Take the World Wide Web- who would have thunk up that? I can’t promise that me hitting on Karen Nyberg will create the next iteration of the World Wide Web, but I’ve run some calculations on my home built Cray and I’m 99% sure that it will.

    Now, am I saying that sending me to space just to simply hit on Karen Nyberg (who is, by the way, quite officially and undoubteldy 10,000,000,000 times hotter than the Crab Nebula if you were to gaze at her with your telescopes) is justifiable from a financial or scientific standpoint? Well, yes. Yes I am.

    It’s time to go boldly Nasa. I’m your guy. I’ve even bought my Rugby shirt and have begun to grow my mustache in anticipation.

  32. Mu

    So, where is that coastline, I can’t find it on any map (assuming I have the right idea of the length scale being something like 500 km or so)?

  33. MKR

    NASA should run ad spots that are just slide shows of ISS photos.


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