Somewhere over the Alps
24 September 2013
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is sharing pictures of Earth from the International Space Station circling 400 km above us, offering stunning panoramas of our beautiful planet.
Here, the Alps show their relief and snow-capped tops, even in summer. The Alps span five countries: stretching from France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany to Austria.
Although the Space Station gives astronauts unique views of Earth, it is hard for them to know exactly what they are looking at from the Cupola observation module – national borders are an artificial construct and not visible from space. In addition, the orbital complex is travelling at 28 000 km/h and features pass by quickly.
In a previous image of the Alps Luca sent from space he wrongly identified the country as Italy. This was quickly spotted by his followers on social media. Luca replied personally explaining how difficult it is to recognise countries without the manmade borders drawn on atlases.
The Volare mission is around halfway through before Luca returns to Earth in November with crewmates Fyodor Yurchikhin and Karen Nyberg. Follow Volare as it happens and join the conversation on Twitter, Flickr and his mission blog through the links to the right.