The International Space Station (ISS) has given us some amazing pictures of Earth, despite traveling at incredible speed. To get an idea of how fast it travels watch a video that simulates its travel at the height of an airplane.
The ISS (International Space Station) takes just 90 minutes to orbit the Earth at an altitude of 400 km, traveling at 7,66 km per second.
Simple and cold numbers that are very difficult to understand what they mean. But one YouTuber wanted to "feel" these numbers and simulated what it would look like if the ISS was orbiting the Earth at airplane height, i.e. at 3 kilometers (10.000 feet) instead of the orbital height of a spacecraft.
Just for reference, smaller airplanes like the Cessna 172 have a maximum altitude of about 14.000 feet (4,2 km), while airplanes have a cruising altitude between 33.000 (10 km) and 42.000 feet (13 km).
In the video below, Benjamin Granville used Microsoft Flight Simulator to simulate the ISS flying at an altitude of 3 kilometers.
Traveling at such a low altitude would make photographing the ground from the ISS incredibly difficult. But, even at 400 kilometers above the Earth, it is not at all easy to take the amazing pictures that come to us from the Station.
In 2021, the astronaut Thomas Gautier Pesquet, said it's not as simple as you might think. Good planning for a photo is half the battle and it starts with our navigation software.
Pesquet says via Twitter, that software, shows them where it is day and night on Earth and also provides them with cloud cover forecasts. But more importantly, it shows future trajectories.
“Many people think we can take a picture of a specific place on Earth on command, but things are much more difficult. First of all, our orbits mean that we only fly in certain areas periodically.
Second, even if we do fly over an area of interest, it might be at night, so there won't be anything to see unless it's a city with lots of street lights. The lighting in the morning or evening is generally not good enough (that's why some of the images have more pastel colors). Then there are clouds that can get in the way of photography.
Last but not least, we often pass through areas… when we work. We can't stop what we're doing at 14:35 p.m., for example, just because we really want to take a picture of a city or a mountain or some other place on Earth."