Astronauts are often at a loss for words when asked about the view from space. They get overwhelmed by the sight of the thin atmosphere, the ever-changing weather patterns, and even the smallness of Earth in the blackness. The concept even has a name: The overview effect.
They’ll also be the first to say it’s a feeling that cannot be duplicated, but try, try we will anyway. Four high-definition cameras were sent to the International Space Station on the last Space-X cargo resupply mission in April, and are now attached to the exterior to give us the best, live view of Earth from space we ground-dwellers have ever had. You can watch the livestream here. (There’s no audio; NASA suggests you add your own soundtrack.)
The scene occasionally goes gray during camera view switches, or entirely black when the station is on the night side of Earth. You can find out exactly what you’re looking at by keeping the ISS Tracker open in another tab.
The cameras are part of the High Definition Earth Viewing experiment, which is testing video equipment to use on future space missions. Each camera has housing that protects it from the cold temperatures, but they’re still exposed to harsh radiation. The experiment will monitor the video quality to see how it changes over time. In the meantime, the rest of us can sit back and enjoy the view.