Cruising along at 17,200 miles per hour, the astronauts experience 15 or 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.
This sequence of time-lapse photographs to the right illustrates roughly half an orbit, from sunrise over Northern Europe to sunset southeast of Australia, on April 28, 2010.
The view is to the north of the station’s ground track. Visible in the upper left is the tail of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which was docked with the Space Station.
The animation begins with a view of snow-covered Norway and the Jutland Peninsula, then shows low clouds covering Central Europe. The animation continues as the Station flies by Ukraine, eastern Russia, the Volga River, and then the Russian Steppes.
South and east of the steppes, a dust storm comes into view over the Taklimakan Desert, followed shortly by the lake-studded Tibetan Plateau and the glaciers of the Himalayan Mountains. Smoke-shrouded lowlands hug the southern margin of the Himalaya.
Smoke also covers much of Southeast Asia, including the Irrawaddy Delta.
After the Space Station passes over the sapphire-blue South China Sea, the island of Borneo appears, followed by the open expanse of the Indian Ocean. A trio of coral reefs lies off the coast of Western Australia, which is studded with clouds. Australia’s arid interior is colored myriad shades of red.
As sunset nears, cloud shadows lengthen, highlighting their structure. Daylight fades as the Space Station reaches dusk over the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand.
Full story and image: NASA