Photo: NASA Photo by Don Pettit
Between 2002 and 2003, astronaut Don Pettit developed a system for taking clear images of cities at night from about 400 kilometers above Earth’s surface while aboard International Space Station Expedition 6.Previously, urban nightscapes captured using onboard cameras came out blurry due to the speed of the Space Station relative to Earth’s surface.
Pettit’s mounting device, known as a “barn-door tracker,” effectively negated the effects of orbital motion, enabling astronauts to keep the camera focused on a city while the station moved above rotating Earth.
The following collection of images show what some of the world’s biggest cities look like from space when illuminated by an intricate web of glowing lights after the sun sets.
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