European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst has combined images of Earth taken during his stay aboard the International Space Station to create a stunning time-lapse video which depicts both the inherent beauty and fragility of our planet.
Gerst captured 12,500 images at regular intervals using cameras that record experiments and docking procedures, CNET reports. The astronaut, who hails from Germany, spent 165 days aboard the International Space Station. His mission ended in November, when he returned to Earth, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan.
Once he was back on the ground, the 38-year-old astronaut compiled the images he had recorded to create the time-lapse, according to the Daily Mail. The video reveals the Earth in breathtaking detail, from a vantage point that only a handful of people have ever experienced.
The time-lapse is filled with images of stunning auroras, as charged particles assail the Earth’s magnetic field, while the artificial glow of cities illuminate the nighttime landscape. Tropical storms form and lightning flashes as the ISS carries the astronauts overhead, traveling at 17,000 miles per hour.
— RT (@RT_com) December 27, 2014
Many of the images were shared on Twitter by Gerst over the last year, according to RT. When viewed as part of the HD time-lapse, however, they more appropriately convey the perspective that astronauts experience while aboard the space station.
The mission that Gerst participated in was called Blue Dot, named after American astronomer Carl Sagan, who famously called the Earth “a pale blue dot.” As the Inquisitr previously noted, Sagan’s description was inspired by a photo of the Earth taken from Voyager 1, six billion kilometers away from the planet.
“Seen from a distance, our planet is just a blue dot, a fragile spaceship for humankind,” Gerst noted. “We need to understand the universe we live in to protect our home.”
Gerst helped to conduct over 40 experiments with his fellow astronauts during their six-month stay on the ISS. A geophysicist and volcanologist, he engaged in research pertaining to human physiology, radiation biology, solar research, and biotechnology, among other disciplines.
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) October 26, 2014
The time-lapse video concludes with views of several of the stunning auroras Gerst recorded while an astronaut aboard the ISS.
[Image: ESA/ Alexander Gerst via the Daily Mail]