The featured image of this article shows what is called a “star trail” image, produced by NASA on the ISS. It is composed of a series of images taken from a camera that is mounted on the International Space Station. It is orbiting earth with an average distance above our planet’s surface of about 400 kilometers (240 miles). On a clear day, the ISS is visible from the ground without special equipment such as a telescope.
Flight Engineer Don Pettit from Expedition 31 said about the photographic techniques used to achieve the images: “My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
To create the image, a 18 images were combined which have been photographed by the stationary space camera. The International Space Station is in regular orbit around the Earth. This unique science laboratory is being used for various studies for which it has many mounted camaras to take breathtaking pictures from earth and beyond.