December 25, 2011 by staff
Astronauts Christmas, It seems Christmas came early on the International Space Station, as all the commander of the ISS could say about Comet Lovejoy is that it was “amazing.” The commander of the ISS, peering out the multi-windowed Cupola observatory, has captured what is sure to be some of the most iconic images ever taken aboard the outpost.
The amazing images show Comet Lovejoy, which survived a trip through the sun’s atmosphere last week. They were snapped by veteran NASA astronaut Daniel Burbank, who is currently commander of the ISS.
“Two nights ago I probably saw the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in space and that’s saying an awful lot because every day is filled with amazing things. Just before the sun came up, the Earth’s limb was lit up as a thin sliver of blue and purple and then there was this long, green arc that extended probably 10 degrees or so from the horizon,” said Burbank.
The images comes just weeks as the comet’s close encounter was recorded by at least five spacecraft: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin probes. The images were snapped just days before Christmas on the ISS, which is said to feature a number of space treats. Speaking Friday, Mr. Burbank said ISS astronauts were already prepared to celebrate the upcoming holiday.
“We’ve already put up decorations, and we’ve gathered together all the cards and gifts that our friends and families have sent to us, and we’re planning a couple of big meals,” said Mr.Burbank. “That’ll be great.”
Comet Lovejoy has been the talk of the astronomy community over the past few weeks. It was discovered on 27 November by the Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy and was classified as a Kreutz sungrazer, with its orbit taking it very close to the Sun.
Earlier this week, the comet entered the Sun’s corona, passing a mere 140,000 kilometres from the surface of the Sun. The comet’s close encounter was recorded by at least five spacecraft: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO probes, Europe’s Proba2 microsatellite, and the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.
The holidays in the ISS comes just days after astronauts arrived Thursday just in time for a zero gravity holiday party to begin a five-month stay in orbit.
NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency docked at the orbiting laboratory late Thursday, the latest transition to take place on the orbiting space station.
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