This incredible photo was snapped from the International Space Station last week when the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Eduardo Amaldi docked with the orbiting outpost. The ATV can be seen in the background, with its four solar panels extended and illuminated by the spacecraft’s thrusters. Below, the eerie glow of the Earth’s atmosphere and smeared city lights provide an astounding backdrop. Just a quick reminder that everything is cooler in space.
Like the Russian Progress vehicles, the ATV are automated vessels that carry vital supplies to humanity’s orbiting home-away-from-home. The Eduardo Amaldi brought 220 pounds of oxygen, 628 pounds of water, 4.5 tons of propellant, and about two and a half tons of other sundry items like experiments, spare parts, food, and clothing. After spending a few months docked with the station, occasionally boosting the ISS’ orbit, the craft will be loaded with refuse and allowed to burn up in the atmosphere.
In order to get to the station, the Eduardo Amaldi relies on GPS navigation as well as star tracking to determine its position.
It’s an amazing photo, and a peek into the astounding effort that goes into keeping the ISS supplied and running. To see the full size version, head on over to the NASA image of the day archive.
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- The view from the ISS is always great