Ever since Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield cracked the code of cool with the photos and videos he posted while aboard the International Space Station (including that awesome rendition of "Space Oddity") in 2012, it's been very clear that the right astronaut in space with access to Twitter can show people how incredible this whole space exploration thing really is. And thus we give you, Astronaut Scott Kelly. Kelly has taken a page out of the Hadfield playbook and started documenting his year in space (#YearinSpace) on Twitter. What takes Kelly's Twitter feed up to 11 is that Kelly has been snapping incredible photos showing us what his view of the world looks like. It's gorgeous.
He got some media attention for his gorgeous photos of the Aurora Borealis that were posted over the weekend, but it's the sheer sum total of his shared photos that dazzles us. And to make all of this even better, Kelly is doing all of this while he is spending that aforementioned year in space as part of a NASA project to find out what actually happens to a person's body over the course of, well, 365 days in zero gravity while orbiting Earth. NASA scientists are collecting data on how Kelly's body handles being in space for so long, information that will be vital as NASA continues to pursue its mission to Mars in the 2030s. Meanwhile, Kelly's twin brother, former Astronaut Mark Kelly, is being monitored on Earth so NASA scientists will be able to compare and contrast how one twin's body changes on Earth versus what happens while in space.
Kelly arrived on the International Space Station in March and by the time he's done next year he'll have become the first American to spend a full year in space, ultimately logging about 500 days in orbit. He started taking photos and uploading them to Twitter soon after he got on the ISS. While Kelly will likely be dealing with all of the "fun" that being in space that long brings — backaches, bad sleep, bone loss, bad balance, headaches, muscle atrophy, radiation exposure and feeling vomity — he's also getting to see some incredible things. Even better, he's sharing them with us.
Kelly has been in space for 140 days as of August 18. So far he's tweeted stuff like this:
And this view of the Northern Lights:
And amazing Rothko-esque photos like this one:
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The snows of Kilimanjaro:
And the Himalayas: