This is the most inspirational picture of the ISS I’ve ever seen

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured this remarkable view of the International Space Station over the Nile Delta in Egypt in November 2021.

Thomas Beckett

I want to talk about a photo of the International Space Station. I thought I saw most Pictures from a SpaceX Crew-2 flight in November. But I missed one, and Tweet from Nujoud Fahoum Merancy, Chief of Exploration Mission Planning at NASA, caught my eye this week.

“I’m going to be contemplating this last image of the International Space Station over the Egyptian Nile Delta today,” Merancy wrote, taking it as an invitation to do the same. The image shows the station about 250 miles (400 km) above the delta region where the river reaches the Mediterranean Sea. The Earth below is lit by a grid of lights, while the International Space Station is lit up in the dark.

The image comes courtesy of European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Bisquet, who took a series of stunning photos of the International Space Station during a November flyby before the Crew Dragon spacecraft returned home.

I’ve seen much clearer pictures of the International Space Station. I’ve seen brighter ones. But the layers of meaning in this picture move me. The station seems to blend into the spectacle of lights below and it’s hard to tell where Earth ends and space begins. The International Space Station is framed as if it were embraced by the Nile Delta, all the people who live there now, and the deep history of the area.

The image is very impressive given that the life of the International Space Station is limited. It’s already been in orbit for over 20 years and NASA wants it Continue to operate the plant until 2030. The life of the International Space Station will be a fleeting picture of the thousands of years of human history represented by the Nile Delta. But the station represents the ambitious extension of humanity, the pursuit of amazement.

The International Space Station may have been miles from the Nile when Pesquet took the serendipitous shot, but the image folds together many chapters of human history, from Earth’s fertile fields to hard-to-reach stars.

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