NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 7 January 2023: 2 Space Stations in Earth Orbit
NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is a breathtaking picture of the two Space Stations in Low Earth Orbit.
The International Space Station (ISS), which is the largest modular space station in low Earth orbit was launched back on 20 November 1998. Since then, the ISS has been occupied by astronauts carrying out multiple experiments. Now, China has built its own space station named Tiangong on 29 April 2021. It is lying in low Earth orbit between 340 and 450 km above the surface of the Earth. NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day represents these two Space Stations in low Earth orbit in a spectacular presentation with a starry background.
NASA explains about the image, “On January 3, two space stations already illuminated by sunlight in low Earth orbit crossed this dark predawn sky. Moving west to east (left to right) across the composited time-lapse image China's Tiangong Space Station traced the upper trail captured more than an hour before the local sunrise.” In the image, you can see Tiangong passes just below the inverted Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major near the peak of its bright arc, and above the north pole star Polaris against a starry background.
The image also shows the International Space Station having traced its own sunlit streak across the dark sky just five minutes before the Tiangong Space Station. “Its trail begins just above the W-shape outlined by the bright stars of Cassiopeia near the northern horizon. The dramatic foreground spans an abandoned mine at Achada do Gamo in southeastern Portugal,” NASA further explained.
Amazing facts of ISS and Tiangong Space Station
Did you know that the International Space Station (ISS) program's members include -- the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and ten member states of the European Space Agency including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland and the UK. However, China is absent from the ISS. Hence, China launched its own Tiangong space station. In 24 hours, the ISS makes 16 orbits of Earth, traveling through 16 sunrises and sunsets.