Crew of Expedition 40 on International Space Station captures breathtaking photo of Italy

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Italy oblique night image international space station expedition 40

By ANDREW TAVANI

Italy is one of the world's most geographically easily recognizable countries thanks to its signature boot shape, which earned it the famous nickname 'The Boot' (or 'Lo Stivale' in Italian). Last Saturday, Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station captured a breathtaking photo of the Italian peninsula from outer space -- at night. The 'oblique night image,' which illustrates the iconic boot in a way many have likely never seen before, was posted to the ISS Facebook page, where it's racked up around 5,000 likes as of this report.

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, who is aboard the ISS and has proven prolific at posting stunning images from space during his time in orbit, posted the image to his Twitter feed, where it was retweeted more than 7,000 times and favorited more than 7,800 times. It's easy to see why as this pic is nothing short of extraordinary.

Earlier on AOL.com:

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Crew of Expedition 40 on International Space Station captures breathtaking photo of Italy
Astronauts on the International Space Station see the Earth at night on every orbit. They captured this broad, short-lens stunning view of Earth’s night lights while looking out over the remote reaches of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean on August 9, 2015. The station was passing over the island nation of Kiribati at the time, about 2600 kilometers (1,600 miles) south of Hawaii. Knowing the exact time and the location of the ISS, scientists were able to match the star field in the photo to charts describing which stars should have been visible at that moment. They identified the pattern of stars in the photo as our Milky Way galaxy (looking toward its center). The dark patches are dense dust clouds in an inner spiral arm of our galaxy; such clouds can block our view of stars toward the center. The curvature of the Earth crosses the center of the image and is illuminated by a variety of airglow layers in orange, green, and red. Setting stars are visible even through the dense orange-green airglow. The brightest light in the image is a lightning flash that illuminated a large mass of clouds. The flash reflected off the shiny solar arrays of the ISS and back to the camera. The dim equatorial cloud sheet is so extensive that it covers most of the sea surface in this view. Image Credit: NASA Caption: M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State U., Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC and Mark Matney, NASA-JSC #nasa #space #astronomy #iss #spacestation @iss #science #earth #night #stars
Hubble Spies a Spiral Snowflake: Spiral galaxies, like this one, make up around 60% of the galaxies in the local universe. However, despite their prevalence, each spiral galaxy is unique — like snowflakes, no two are alike. The Hubble Space Telescope peered toward the luminous nucleus and spectacular sweeping arms of this galaxy, NGC 6814. NGC 6814 has an extremely bright nucleus, a telltale sign that the galaxy is a Seyfert galaxy. These galaxies have very active centers that can emit strong bursts of radiation. The luminous heart of NGC 6814 is a highly variable source of X-ray radiation, causing scientists to suspect that it hosts a supermassive black hole with a mass about 18 million times that of the sun. As NGC 6814 is a very active galaxy, many regions of ionized gas are studded along its spiral arms. In these large clouds of gas, a burst of star formation has recently taken place, forging the brilliant blue stars that are visible scattered throughout the galaxy. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt #nasa #astronomy #science #space #Hubble #galaxy
Behemoth supermassive black hole weighing 17 billion suns was found in an unlikely place: in the center of a galaxy in a sparsely populated area of the universe. The observations, made by our Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, may indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought. This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The black region in the center represents the black hole's event horizon, where no light can escape the massive object's gravitational grip. The black hole's powerful gravity distorts space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars skim by the black hole. Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI) [Computer Simulated Image] #nasa #space #hubble #hst #gemini #telescope #blackhole #nasabeyond #astronomy #galaxy #science
Blue Bubble: Sparkling at the center of this beautiful Hubble Space Telescope image is a Wolf-Rayet star known as WR 31a, located about 30,000 light-years away. The distinctive blue bubble appearing to encircle WR 31a is a Wolf-Rayet nebula - an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases. Created when speedy stellar winds interact with the outer layers of hydrogen ejected by Wolf-Rayet stars, these nebulae are frequently ring-shaped or spherical. The bubble - estimated to have formed around 20,000 years ago - is expanding at a rate of around 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) per hour! Unfortunately, the lifecycle of a Wolf-Rayet star is only a few hundred thousand years - the blink of an eye in cosmic terms. Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt #nasa #hubble #hst #nebula #planets #stars #nasabeyond #astronomy #science
Aurora and the Pacific Northwest: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and ESA astronaut Tim Peake shared a series of aurora photographs taken from the International Space Station on Jan. 20, 2016. Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) wrote, "#goodmorning #aurora and the Pacific Northwest! #YearInSpace" and Peake (@astro_timpeake) followed up with, "Getting a photo masterclass from @StationCDRKelly - magical #aurora" The dancing lights of the aurora provide spectacular views on the ground, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun. Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs. Image Credit: ESA/NASA #nasa #spacestation #iss #aurora #space #earth

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 2 March 2014

"Tonight, #Gravity is up for awards at the#Oscars2014 & we're sharing #RealGravity images from living & working in space. First up is this stunning picture where the bright sun greets the International Space Station in this Nov. 22, 2009 scene from the Russian section of the orbital outpost."

Image Credit: NASA

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 16 April 2014

"Eclipse! From open prairie land on the 1625-acre Johnson Space Center site, one of our photographers took this multi-frame composite image of the so-called "Blood Moon" lunar eclipse in the early hours of April 15. During these rare events, the full moon rapidly darkens and then glows red as it enters the Earth's shadow."
 
Image Credit: NASA 

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 24 May 2014

"Hubble Sees Flickering Light Display on Saturn - Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have captured new images of the dancing auroral lights at Saturn’s north pole. Taken from Hubble’s perspective in orbit around the Earth, these images provide a detailed look at Saturn’s stormy aurorae — revealing previously unseen dynamics in the choreography of the auroral glow. The cause of the changing patterns in Saturn's aurorae is an ongoing mystery in planetary science. These ultraviolet images, taken by Hubble’s super-sensitive Advanced Camera for Surveys, add new insight by capturing moments when Saturn’s magnetic field is affected by bursts of particles streaming out from the sun."

Image Credit: European Space Agency

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 1 June 2014

"This image shot by astronauts aboard the International Space Station is a striking view of Sarychev volcano (Russia's Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009. Sarychev Peak is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain and is located on the northwestern end of Matua Island."
 

Image Credit: NASA

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 8 May 2014 

"It's a small world! The phrase "encircling the Earth" has a double entendre flavor to it in this picture showing all six Expedition 39 crew members in the Kibo module around a globe while actually orbiting the "real thing" aboard the International Space Station. Clockwise from his position are Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Tyurin of Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Steve Swanson and Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos."

Image Credit: NASA

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 6 June 2014

"Astronaut Reid Wiseman, aboard the International Space Station, shared this image on Twitter on Friday, June 6, 2014 wishing everyone a great weekend. He shared that this image shows 'Trinidad and Tobago in the evening sun.'

Image Credit: NASA

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 11 June 2014

"An adult osprey returns home to its nest built on a platform in a parking lot at our Kennedy Space Center, carrying a fish in its talons. In the background is the 12,300-square-foot NASA logo painted on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB)."

Image Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 10 June 2014

"The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:42 a.m. EDT on June 10, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory – which typically observes the entire sun 24 hours a day -- captured images of the flare. It is seen bursting off the left limb of the sun in this image captured by SDO and is shown in a blend of two wavelengths of light: 171 and 131 angstroms, colorized in gold and red, respectively."

Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard/Wiessinger

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 30 May 2014

"Violent Birth Announcement from an Infant Star - This Hubble image shows IRAS 14568-6304, a young star that is cloaked in a haze of golden gas and dust. It appears to be embedded within an intriguing swoosh of dark sky, which curves through the image and obscures the sky behind."

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Acknowledgements: R. Sahai, NASA JPL/ Serge Meunier

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 29 May 2014

"The 'Serpent' Star-forming Cloud Hatches New Stars - Within the swaddling dust of the Serpens Cloud Core, astronomers are studying one of the youngest collections of stars ever seen in our galaxy."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/2MASS

 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 11 May 2014

"IceBridge Concludes Arctic Field Campaign - Researchers with our Operation IceBridge have completed another successful Arctic field campaign. On May 23, NASA's P-3 research aircraft left Thule Air Base, Greenland, and returned to Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia marking the end of 11 weeks of polar research." This image is a view of mountains and sea ice near Thule Air Base, Greenland, from the NASA P-3 on May 6, 2014."

Image Credit: NASA/Michael

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 14 May 2014

"Landing time! The Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, May 14, 2014."


Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 5 May 2104

"Here's what happens when galaxies collide - as seen by our Chandra X-Ray Observatory: M51 is a spiral galaxy, about 30 million light years away, that is in the process of merging with a smaller galaxy seen to its upper left. This image is part of a "quartet of galaxies" collaboration of professional and amateur astronomers that combines optical data from amateur telescopes with data from the archives of NASA missions."
 
Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: Detlef Hartmann; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech 
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 19 April 2014

"Researchers were greatly surprised to discover 3-million-year-old landscape beneath Greenland Ice Sheet! The finding provides strong evidence that the Greenland Ice Sheet has persisted much longer than previously known, enduring through many past periods of global warming."
 
Image Credit: Joshua Brown, University of Vermont 
 
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 16 April 2014

"The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station. The steep walls of the Colorado River canyon and its many side canyons make an intricate landscape that contrasts with the dark green, forested plateau to the north and south. "
 
Image Credit: NASA 
 
 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 26 March 2014

"Off into Space! This long exposure photograph shows the flight path of the Soyuz TMA-12M rocket as it launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday. The rocket carried Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos to the International Space Station."
 
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

 
 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 2 February 2014

"This view of the Crab Nebula in visible light comes from the Hubble Space Telescope and spans 12 light-years. The supernova remnant, located 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, is among the best-studied objects in the sky."
 
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/ASU/J. Hester 
 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 24 January 2014

"Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy donned their Russian Orlan spacesuits for a "dry run" dress rehearsal to test the suits in advance of Monday's spacewalk to reinstall a pair of cameras as part of a commercial endeavor between a Canadian firm and the Russian Federal Space Agency. The cameras will be used to downlink Earth imagery to Internet-based subscribers. The two cosmonauts also plan to retrieve an experiment package housed on the Zvezda service module's hull."
 
Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 31 December 2013

"Quiet Corona and Upper Transition Region of the Sun: This image, taken on Dec. 31, 2013 by the AIA instrument on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) at 171 Angstrom, shows the current conditions of the quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun on the last day of 2013."

Image Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 27 December 2013

"On Dec. 24, 2013, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, participates in the second of two U.S. spacewalks, spread over a four-day period, which were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. He was joined on both spacewalks by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, whose image shows up in Hopkins' helmet visor."

Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 22 May 2014

"On Earth Day this year, NASA asked people all around the world a simple question - "Where are you on Earth Right Now?"We asked people to answer the question on social media, with a selfie. The goal was to use each picture as a pixel in the creation of a "Global Selfie" - a mosaic image that would look like Earth appeared from space on Earth Day. The mosaic was made with 36,422 individual images that were posted to social media sites on or around Earth Day, April 22, 2014."
 
Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 2 March 2014

"A crescent moon and Earth's horizon are featured in this nighttime image photographed by an Expedition 40 crew member on the International Space Station. Over the weekend, the station’s residents will have some free time to relax, speak with family members back on Earth and take care of weekly housekeeping chores. They’ll also have a chance to catch up on the action at the World Cup 2014 games in Brazil."

Image Credit: NASA
 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 15 June 2014

"Our scientists have created a new recipe that captures key flavors of the brownish-orange atmosphere around Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The recipe is used for lab experiments designed to simulate Titan’s chemistry." This Cassini image from 2012 shows Titan and its parent planet Saturn."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 16 June 2014

"Cracks in Pluto's Moon Could Indicate it Once Had an Underground Ocean: If the icy surface of Pluto's giant moon Charon is cracked, analysis of the fractures could reveal if its interior was warm, perhaps warm enough to have maintained a subterranean ocean of liquid water, according to a new NASA-funded study."

Image Credit: NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI)

 

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 26 May 2014

"All-American Salute - Astronaut John W. Young, commander of the Apollo 16 lunar landing mission, leaps from the lunar surface as he salutes the United States flag at the Descartes landing site during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity. Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot, took this picture."

Image Credit: NASA

Posted on NASA's Instagram on 9 May 2014

"Spacewalk Training in the Pool! In November 2012, astronaut Reid Wiseman attired in training versions of their spacesuits, submerged in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near Johnson Space Center in Houston."

Image Credit: NASA 

Posted to NASA's Instagram on 13 June 2014

"Hubble Eyes Golden Rings of Star Formation Taking center stage in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a galaxy known as NGC 3081, set against an assortment of glittering galaxies in the distance. Located in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Serpent), NGC 3081 is located over 86 million light-years from us."

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: R. Buta (University of Alabama)

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