If the state of the planet is getting you down or you’re just terrified that ducks can now speak human words, then I advise you to stop what you’re doing for a few moments and gaze in awe at this photo by Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut currently residing inside the International Space Station.
Pesquet, an engineer with the European Space Agency, is one of the members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission and member of NASA’s Expedition 65, which launched to the station in April. It’s his second spaceflight and he’s become known around these parts for delivering some absolutely surreal images of our home planet.
This may be his best yet.
Snapped from the cupola of the ISS, Pesquet’s view of the Earth sees city lights “battle it out” with the light from distant stars. The orange band around the Earth is, according to astronomer Juan Carlos Munoz, the emission of sodium atoms, approximately 90 kilometers above Earth’s surface.
There’s also a faint green band just beyond it if you squint hard enough — that’s created by oxygen atoms being excited.
It’s not easy to get such a photo and Pesquet notes he’s missed his share of shots.
“Not only do you as a photographer have to stay extremely still holding the camera, but also the Space Station moves so fast that there will be some motion anyway,” Pesquet explains in his photo caption. The ISS is travelling at over 17,000 miles an hour and completes an orbit over the Earth every 90 minutes or so.
It’s a busy time up on the station, with the third SpaceX Crew-3 mission expected to launch on Halloween and begin ISS Expedition 66. Pesquet will take over as the commander in late October when the four-person crew on the Crew-3 mission join the station. Expedition 66 is also notable because it will include two Russian civilians, film director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild, who will launch on a Soyuz rocket on Oct. 5 to film scenes for a movie called The Challenge. Not quite Tom Cruise, we know, but he’s heading up there sometime soon, too.
If you’re after more holy moly moments, you should visit Pesquet’s Flickr account, which includes an assortment of space stunners.