A totally speculative notion, I hope, what if the Moon were as close to Earth as the International Space Station?
If you overlook the fact that we wouldn’t be here – in short the tidal and gravitational forces of two bodies in such close proximity would tear the Moon apart, hammering Earth with debris in the process – the sight of the Moon a mere four or so hundred kilometres away, would be simultaneously eerie and spectacular.
Controlling the International Space Station (ISS), as it hurtles above our heads in Earth orbit, looks incredibly straightforward here, but I suspect there’s far more to steering a vessel, or if you ask me, a structure, with the dimensions of the ISS.
How do you address mail that might be sent into space? A somewhat serious question considering there is currently at least one full-time outpost in Earth orbit, the International Space Station (ISS), and that at one stage we were envisaging a very real off-planet future.
My sleep station, a coffin-sized box, is located in the fifth deck space of Node 2. From an Earth-based perspective, I pop out of my sleep station as if I were coming out of the floor. I am thus situated on the International Space Station (ISS) in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees (the angle of our orbit plane to the equator) and an average altitude of 400 kilometers. It occurred to me that my address should be: Node 2, Deck 5, ISS, LEO 51.603. The first three digits of your space zip code would be your orbital inclination and the last two a designator for your particular space station, with ISS being the third in this location (after the Salyut series and Mir). This zip code nomenclature should suffice, at least until there are more than 99 different space stations in orbit.
While living and working in space was a tremendous experience, it also presented us with many challenges. Some of which aren’t so obvious. Photographically speaking, there were a number of hurdles. The dynamic range of the subject was potentially huge. The darkest darks you can imagine along with the brightest highlights. With no atmosphere, there is probably another stop or two of light on bright subjects. I would guess that the dynamic range of some scenes approaches 16 or 17 stops.
His write up also offers some candid insights into living and working aboard both a Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Nothing at all like the orbiting Hilton hotel from 2001: A Space Odyssey, though no less exhilarating I’m sure.
A great companion piece to the short video clip I posted at the end of September… a five minute time-lapse video made up of images recently taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
At times Earth looks like a completely alien planet by way of lightening storms, cloud formations, city lights, and the almost ever present aurora borealis/australis.