Space Station Astronauts Log One Million Photos

Check out Space Station Astronauts Log One Million Photos

Space Station Astronauts Log One Million Photographs

April 4, 2012 --

Two Russian spacecraft -- a Soyuz and Progress cargo ship -- hang above the Earth, docked to the International Space Station (ISS) while green wisps of auroral activity complete the scene. On any average day, this photograph would be a beautiful reminder of the serenity of space and the ingenuity of mankind. But this isn't any "average" photograph. This is the one millionth photograph taken by astronauts and cosmonauts on board our orbiting outpost. This photo, along with an understated tweet from NASA astronaut Don Pettit, was posted on March 27: "1 millionth ISS photo. Part of time lapse series. Not sure who took it, Dan Burbank or myself. We can't remember". In an email to The Atlantic, astronaut Ron Garan explained the details behind this one-millionth photo: "Almost every photo of the Earth is taken in what little free time the crew has (in our off-duty time). The crew does that because it really is enjoyable to share the view of our Earth with the public and we understand that we have a responsibility to do that." As the space station's astronauts have become more connected with Earth via social media platforms like Twitter, some incredible shots of space and life aboard the ISS have been shared with the world. Here are a few of the Discovery News editors' favorites from the "first million ISS photos" we have featured on the site.

The AMS During the final shuttle mission to the ISS, NASA spacewalker Ron Garan, took an exterior shot of the ISS and the recently delivered Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) in the foreground.

MORE: An Astronaut-Eye View of the Space Station

15 Sunsets Every day, the astronauts aboard the ISS see 15 sunrises and 15 sunsets. Here's one sunset that Ron Garan witnessed in 2011.

MORE: An Awe-Inspiring Space Station Odyssey

Endeavour Undocks, Leaves Cupola After installing new windows for the ISS -- the cupola pictured left -- shuttle Endeavour undocked and headed home in February 2010.

MORE: Endeavour Undocks, Begins Journey Home

Making Space Music NASA's Stephen Robinson plays his guitar in the bay of the newly installed cupola in February 2010.

MORE: This Is What It's All About

Colorful Aurora As solar activity intensifies, ISS astronauts have a ringside seat of the stunning auroral displays in the Earth's atmosphere. This September 2011 technicolor display highlights the different atmospheric elements reacting to the bombardment of solar plasma.

MORE: Space Station Watches Technicolor Aurora Erupt

Snaking Aurora Another beautiful auroral scene captured by an ISS astronaut in June 2010 over the southern hemisphere. The green color is caused by the excitement of atmospheric oxygen.

MORE: Spectacular Aurora Ribbon Photographed by Astronaut

Space Meteor! In this stunning photograph by NASA astronaut Ron Garan, a single Perseid meteor was captured as the piece of comet dust slammed into the Earth's atmosphere in August 2011.

MORE: Astronaut Photographs Perseid Meteor... From Space

Comet Lovejoy On Dec. 21, 2011 NASA astronaut Dan Burbank photographed the dazzling comet Lovejoy as it hung above the Earth's horizon. This photo was taken only a few days after its close encounter with the sun. The green haze in the photo is known as "airglow."

MORE: Astronaut Photographs Comet Lovejoy... From Space

Hurricane Irene In August 2011, Hurricane Irene ravaged the U.S. East Coast. From their vantage point, astronauts aboard the ISS have an unparalleled view of our planet, so events like Irene can be closely monitored. It is for this reason why there is an extensive Earth observation program of which ISS astronauts have a large part to play.

MORE: Hurricane Irene from Space

Spacewalking NASA's spacewalking astronaut Mike Fossum points at the camera as he removes a failed ammonia pump module from the ISS during the final shuttle mission to the station in July 2011.

MORE: Inside Atlantis' Final Space Station Mission

Space Station Living There are a huge number of photographs of the Earth and space phenomena, but the collection also features an intimate perspective on life aboard a space station. NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus can be seen here floating inside the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module among with months of ISS supplies during the final shuttle mission.

MORE: Inside Atlantis' Final Space Station Mission

To see more photographs from the space station and other manned NASA missions, be sure to browse the NASA Human Spaceflight gallery.