They say you should never look at the sun – unless you’re NASA of course.
The ISS meets the Sun
The photo in question consists of seven frames showing the silhouette of the ISS as it crosses the fiery yellow sun.
Photographer Joel Kowsky captured the image on Friday, June 25 as the space station was moving at approximately 5 miles a second (or 8km/s).
You can also check it out in GIF form.
The International Space Station is seen in silhouette as it transits the Sun at roughly five miles per second while @NASA astronaut @Astro_Kimbrough and @esa astronaut @Thom_Astro performed a spacewalk to upgrade @Space_Station's power supply. See More ???? https://t.co/2cfJ3BbeHl pic.twitter.com/o4zq9orTyE
— NASA HQ PHOTO (@nasahqphoto) June 25, 2021
The International Space Station is currently inhabited by seven crew members. Astronauts Megan McArthur, Mark Vande Hei, Akihiko Hoshide, Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy are all on board and if you look really closely you might be able to spot Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet on a spacewalk.
Ok, you can’t really see them but NASA did confirm the two astronauts were working outside the station at the time the photo was taken.
At the time of the transit, Kimbrough and Pesquet were working outside on the station’s port 6 truss to install the second Roll-Out Solar Array (iROSA) on the 4B power channel.
The astronauts have been working for weeks to install a new power solar array to the exterior of the space station.
The ISS’ solar panels have been in operation since 2000 but only have an expected service life of 15 years, according to NASA. As such the current panels are showing signs of degradation so NASA is working to install six of the eight power channels with new solar arrays.
Once complete, the new arrays should help add a 20 to 30 per cent increase in power for the station’s research and operational needs.
If you’re just realising what a strange shape the ISS is, yes, it’s because of those solar panels, and they were soaking up plenty of energy in this image.