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Live from Space: Astronaut Photography

Season 1Oct 20, 2017

In a live recording from space, astronauts Randy "Komrade" Bresnik, Paolo Nespoli, Joe Acaba, and Mark "Sabot" Vande Hei talk about about photography and the view of Earth from the International Space Station. HWHAP Episode 15.

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“Houston, We Have a Podcast” is the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, the home of human spaceflight, stationed in Houston, Texas. We bring space right to you! On this podcast, you’ll learn from some of the brightest minds of America’s space agency as they discuss topics in engineering, science, technology and more. You’ll hear firsthand from astronauts what it’s like to launch atop a rocket, live in space and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. And you’ll listen in to the more human side of space as our guests tell stories of behind-the-scenes moments never heard before.

Episode 15 features astronauts Randy “Komrade” Bresnik, Paolo Nespoli, Joe Acaba, and Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei, who talk about about photography and the view of Earth from the International Space Station in a live recording from space on October 13, 2017. Watch the video of this podcast on YouTube.

Houston, we have a podcast


Gary Jordan:Houston, we have a podcast. Welcome to the official podcast of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Episode 15: Astronaut Photography. I’m Gary Jordan and I’ll be your co-host today, along with Megan Sumner, Public Affairs Officer for the Astronaut Office. Megan, how you doing?

Megan Sumner: I’m doing good. How are you, Gary?

Gary Jordan:Doing great. So Megan, today’s episode is a little bit different, because we had a conversation with four– that’s right, four– astronauts in space. We talked with Randy “Komrade” Bresnik, Joe Acaba, Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei, and Paolo Nespoli. All of them are astronauts aboard the international space station for expedition 53, which started back in September after Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer, and Fyodor Yurchikhin departed the station. Komrade and Nespoli were already up there, and they were later joined by Acaba and Sabot, as well as Alexander Misurkin.

Megan Sumner: That’s right, and we talked to all four of them live, so we brought in some social media questions real time for the astronauts to answer.

Gary Jordan:Yes, thanks to you. We talked about astronaut photography, for the most part– how they take pictures of Earth, and what they see, and the sort of emotions that that view brings up. But we also talked a little bit about the spacewalks going on this month, and education in space, as well as life in space. So with no further delay, let’s go light speed and jump right ahead to our talk with the expedition 53 crew. Enjoy.

[ music ]

>> T minus five seconds and counting– Mark. [ indistinct radio chatter ]

>> Houston, we have a podcast.

[ music ]

Gary Jordan:Hello NASA TV, Facebook Live, Ustream– wherever you are watching. Welcome to a very special episode of “Houston, We Have a Podcast.” So if you’re unfamiliar with the podcast, this is where we bring in NASA experts– scientists, engineers, astronauts– all to tell you the coolest stuff about what’s going on here at NASA. So today we have a very special episode. Of course, you can see us on camera, and this is usually an audio podcast. But also, we’re going to be talking to space. This is not the first time we’ve done that. We’ve done it about two months ago with Jack Fischer aboard the International Space Station. And we’re going to do it again with some astronauts, except not with just one. We’re going to do it with four astronauts: Randy “Komrade” Bresnik, Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei, Joe Acaba, and Paolo Nespoli. So I’m not going to do this alone, of course. Same as always, same as before, I have a co-host with me– NASA Public Affairs Officer for the Astronaut Office, Megan Sumner. Megan, thanks for being here.

Megan Sumner: Thanks, happy to be here. Excited to talk to them.

Gary Jordan:Awesome. So, I mean, Public Affairs Officer for the Astronaut Office. Not the only role you’ve had here at NASA, right?

Megan Sumner: Mm-hmm, yeah. I’ve previously actually managed our social media accounts here– the Johnson Space Center accounts, and the International Space Station accounts, and now I am working supporting the astro office for appearances that they go out and do, and also the media support. We have media come and talk to them before their missions, and do interviews and media visits and things like that.

Gary Jordan:Fantastic. And so, I think that’s the reason you’re the perfect person to have as a co-host with me today is just because, first of all, you know the astronauts that we’re talking to today. You’ve actually worked with some of them in the past, right?

Megan Sumner: Yeah, so Joe and Mark, who we’ll be talking to today, were actually the first two astronauts that I got to work with in this role as the Public Affairs Officer for the Astronaut Office, so I’m really excited to get to actually talk to them in space.

Gary Jordan:Awesome. But then also, you ran the social media accounts here at the johnson space center for a while, so that’s another part of this is we are on Facebook Live so if you have any questions that you’d like to send up to the crew, Megan is going to be monitoring those questions real time. She’s got her phone right next to her and we’ll be asking some of those questions to our four astronauts today. So the topic of today’s conversation is astronaut photography. So what’s that all about?

Megan Sumner: Oh, man, the astronauts take the most amazing pictures from the space station and it’s just an amazing view that most of us will never get to see in our lifetime. And thankfully, they are willing to share that view with us through social media. Easily they can share it out to the whole world of what that’s like. And not only that, but they’re sharing with us what they’re doing in space and a little glimpse into their life, the science they’re doing, all the work they’re doing on board. So it’s so cool to be able to see that perspective.

Gary Jordan:Absolutely. I’m very excited for this topic because it is one of the more visual things that we get to see of what the astronauts do on the international space station. Obviously, they’re doing science all the time and we have crew members that are constantly working various experiments. And just recently, they’ve been going out and doing a few spacewalks so they have maintenance tasks that they regularly do. But right now, we’re actually going to be talking about astronaut photography. And actually right next to us we have some of the equipment that they practice on whenever they’re doing some of the– to actually practice for taking photos of the earth. So it looks like our astronauts are actually getting set-up here, just like they do for any public affairs event. So we’re going to be talking with mission control soon and getting that started. So if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below.

Megan Sumner: Yup, yup, we’re taking your questions on Facebook live. I’ll be watching and asking the crew, so get your question in there and watch along so you can hear if they get a chance to answer it.

Gary Jordan:Absolutely. All right, looks like our four astronauts are getting set up right now. Let’s think, I mean, so we have– we can talk about some of the extravehicular activities that they’ve been doing, some of the spacewalks as well, but a little bit about our crew– Randy Bresnik and Joe Acaba and Paolo Nespoli have been there before. For Mark Vande Hei this is his first spaceflight, so we’ll get to talk to him about his experience as being a newcomer. Actually, three of the astronauts we’ve talked to on the podcast before– Randy Bresnik, Mark Vande Hei, and Joe Acaba– all each individual episodes to share their experiences of what they’ve done aboard. Paolo Nespoli, this’ll be the first time talking with him, so that’ll be a pleasure as well. And he shared some fantastic imagery of Italy and just different parts of the earth, so can’t wait to see what we’re doing there. So let’s connect with Mission Control Houston, and talk to our four astronauts. Again, send you questions below on Facebook Live.

Capcom: Station, this is Houston. Are you ready for the event?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: Houston, we’re ready for the event.

Capcom:JSC PAO, please call station for a voice check.

Gary Jordan:Station, this is Gary Jordan and Megan Sumner in the public affairs office. How do you hear us?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: Gary, we got you loud and clear. Megan, good afternoon to you, too.

Gary Jordan:All right, well this is an absolute pleasure to be talking to all four of you today. I thought for sure I’d at least get to talk to one astronaut, but thank you so much for all four of you taking the time to talk to us today. So for– a lot of you have been on the podcast already, so again, welcome back. But today, we’re going to be doing a live event so we really wanted to bring in some questions from social media and hoping you can answer those real time. But just to start off, because there are four of you, if you can just sort of give a quick introduction to all of you so our listeners kind of know who you are.

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: All right, we’ve got expedition 53 space station commander Randy Bresnik.

Paolo Nespoli:Expedition 52, 53 flight engineer, Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency.

Joe Acaba: And expedition 53 and 54 flight engineer, Joe Acaba.

Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei: Expedition 53 and 54 flight engineer, Mark Vande Hei.

Gary Jordan:That’s awesome. Welcome to all of you. Thanks for being with us today. So we’ll start with Komrade and Paolo, you guys have been up there the longest, so just how have the– how’s the mission been going so far? What are some of the highlights?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: I think certainly highs for us were getting to work with the previous crew and the space ninja, Peggy Whitson, learning from them to be able to take over and run space station when we had our new crew show up for expedition 53. We got to have a dragon come up here and bring a whole bunch of science that we got to work with for a whole month. Certainly the past week has been real exciting because we did two EVAs that are really turn the station back to good configuration with a robotic arm, and some camera work, and preparing stuff for robotic tasks in the future. So we’ve got a lot of stuff going on inside and going on outside, and so it’s been a really exciting expedition so far and we still are only about halfway through.

Paolo Nespoli:Well not much to add to Komrade has already said. I mean, we’re doing a lot of activities here. It’s always crazy. Like, you can wake up in the morning, start working with something, and spin around, and work with some science, and then spin around again, and work with the robotic arm. We’ve been doing almost all of it right now. We have, what, 200 more activities, 250, something like that. I mean, and we are doing all of them.

Gary Jordan:Fantastic. So today, I mean, I’m sure there’s a lot of different topics that we could talk about, but really wanted to focus on astronaut photography today because you guys have such a unique perspective of the earth and you get some time sometimes to go and take photos of the earth and maybe just kind of watch the earth go by. So I guess since, Komrade, you’re holding the mic, if you want to share some experiences from just looking out the window and just kind of what that feeling is like? What it’s like to watch the earth go by?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: I mean, it’s really humbling because it’s such a beautiful thing and they’re so– so far, been so few of us that have had a chance to see it. And you don’t look at the earth and come– not be changed. You certainly feel a part of the earth. You realize that every experiences you’ve ever had, every person you’ve ever known is down on that little blue marble. And when you see the curve, your mind knows how big the earth is and realize when you go around it in 90 minutes you’re back to essentially the same spot. And the fact that we can do that and see that you just feel compelled to share it. I’ll hand the mic over to Sabot over here because he’s only been up here about a month, but to get his impressions on what it went from seeing it for the first time to now translating that into photography to try and share that with others.

Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei: The thing that impressed me the most when I first looked out the cupola to see the earth was how close the recognizable features of the earth seem to space. For example, seeing Italy and in the same view seeing the blackness of space. It makes it seem like everybody on the earth is really, really close to space without ever realizing it. From our perspective, there’s just a thin layer of atmosphere that all of humanity’s living in and outside of that is space. So it’s impressive to me how close we really are all to what we see as outer space. From a photography perspective, I think that’s an important perspective for everybody to have, so my favorite thing to do is to try to capture those pictures that show both the space and places that we recognize and call home on the planet.

Gary Jordan:Absolutely. And Komrade, I know you’ve shared some just the perspective of the earth compared to some other images, you know, being on the earth, too. And those are an absolute pleasure to see. But I know we have some actual questions coming in from some of our listeners right now.

Megan Sumner: Yeah. That’s amazing. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to actually see that view in person, but next best thing of course is to be able to see it through pictures and videos that you guys are taking. And the whole world really appreciates that. We’ve got some awesome questions coming in. Lots of people are interested in photography in space and you guys on the space station. So Jace on Facebook wants to know, “there are so many cameras on the space station, how do you decide which camera to use? And can you tell us a little bit about the equipment you do have up there?”

Paolo Nespoli: Yes, so we do have– for still photography, we essentially have a Nikon camera. Right now, we have several D4. Each one of us gets his own, plus we have a couple placed strategically. Some of them are dedicated for special photography like macro photography. We need to do a lot of macro photography for equipment here. Some we just dedicated to take– there was a macro– a macro shot, right?

Joe Acaba: Yeah.

Paolo Nespoli:Try one with a tele lens here. Some, like this one, we really use when we are pointing at earth and we have some windows that have a special capability of letting us take pictures with this lens. And then, we have– we also have a red dragon camera that we use for cinematography. We have video cameras that allows us to take HD photos. I mean, I would say that from a point of view of cameras, lenses, set-up, we are all set here. We have everything that you can imagine. It’s just what is missing a little bit is the time because it takes time to be there at the window. It’s not that you just go there and you can take a picture and leave. If you want to have something that really makes sense you need to have to be there and stay there and understand– because it’s a very quick changing environment here. You have to think that we are flying around earth at about 4 miles per second and things change really dramatically and really quickly. And not only that, you don’t always pass over the same place with the same conditions, actually almost never. So all the conditions change continuously– the sun, the cloud coverage, the seasons. I mean, the colors, the moon, makes a lot of changes during the night. So it’s been a quite interesting time here in trying to take all of this armada of equipment that we have and try to make it do what we want it to do. Not always happens, but somebody will get really great, great things sometimes.

Gary Jordan:Yeah, sounds like there’s a particular technique to take the absolute best [pictures that you can. And from what you’re saying, you have to be there for quite some time. And this is just something that I’ve always been interested in in asking, but I’m sure the cupola is just a hot place to be on the space station to get those photos. So how do you share your time? And who gets to– to see who gets to go in the cupola?

Joe Acaba: Well, Paolo’s the biggest so he always gets the first– he gets the first go. There’s a lot of time in the day, but we’re really busy and so if somebody has an interest, they know something’s coming up they want to see, they let us all know and we respect that and let them have that space. But sometimes, things might come up in the middle of the night, so it’s at times we’re all in there because something is so cool and we all want to see it. And sometimes, you’re in there by yourself just enjoying it. And sometimes, you don’t take pictures. I’m not the greatest photographer so I just enjoy going and looking out the window. But every now and then, we wrestle for it and– but we make it work.

Megan Sumner: Nice. All right, this one’s for Joe too for you, I have to ask from Facebook, Jessica says, “my first graders would like to know what your favorite part about space is? Joe was my middle school teacher and now I’m a teacher.” That’s pretty cool.

Joe Acaba: Wow! That’s very cool. Hello, Jessica. Glad that you’re following us. There are so many cool things about being in space. One of them is, of course, floating around. These guys are cool and the relationships that we form are really, really cool. So I would say being able to do this and just kind of hang out in any direction you want, you kind of feel like a superhero, so that’s pretty cool. But again, looking back at the earth is simply amazing. So Jessica, I hope your first graders get inspired to keep studying hard, studying the stem fields, and hopefully they’ll be doing more than we’re doing today on the space station and maybe they’ll be visiting other planets. So thanks a lot.

Megan Sumner: Thanks, Joe. And I just have to mention, that she mentioned in that comment that you were a former classroom teacher and you’re up there. Following you we’ll have Ricky Arnold, who is also a former classroom teacher. And as part of that, we’re really talking a lot about education and how it relates to the space station. So you can go look up stem on station and there’s a website out there, and educators can find a lot of cool resources there.

Gary Jordan:Absolutely.

Megan Sumner: All right, I got another question on Facebook. This is from Jace, “were you able to operate professional cameras before becoming astronauts, or did you learn about photography during training?

Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei: I never touched a professional camera until I became an astronaut. And that’s been one of the really neat opportunities about being an astronaut is the– like the very fancy cameras like the red camera that Paolo mentioned. It’s pretty impressive array of equipment and the great trainers to help us learn how to use them.

Gary Jordan:So Sabot, I mean, you’ve been up there– this is your first space flight and you have a unique perspective being a first time flyer, but especially I was watching you on your spacewalk and you got a couple moments to– during the spacewalk look down at the earth. So can you sort of describe that experience?

Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei: It’s hard to take it all in. It’s so massive. It’ everywhere. The things that stuck out in my mind were seeing– at night, seeing flashes of lightening that went on for about five minutes. The bright sunlight, it was very impressive. In fact, I’ll never forget when– on the very first spacewalk when Randy opened the hatch the airlock just lit up because of all the reflected light coming from the earth into the airlock. And the airlock’s a very confined place. It doesn’t have– it’s well lit, but it’s not lit like the sun, and so it changed the feeling of the airlock dramatically when that hatch opened up and then it really felt real to me.

Megan Sumner: That’s awesome. All right, another question. Colin on Facebook wants to know, “if you guys take space selfies up there?” Maybe you got to take one on your spacewalk.

>> [ indistinct ].

Paolo Nespoli:Go ahead, go ahead.

Paolo Nespoli:Yeah, I just posted something from our last spacewalk on Tuesday with the space selfie and tried to explain to people because you got these big inflated gloves on and you’re trying to take this camera. And it’s like if you went to your oven, and grabbed your oven mitts, and then grabbed your camera and tried to take the selfie. That’s what it’s kind of like in space trying to do that, and line it up, and feel for the button, and get the shot. So you end up trying to squeeze it a few times. Hopefully you see maybe the shutter actually took the picture. And then you come back inside later on and go, “hey, did I get anything?”

Gary Jordan:Amazing. Hey, so Paolo, we were kind of looking at some of your photos on Twitter, just the ones that you’re sharing. I see a lot of amazing pictures of Italy, but one that really stuck out in my mind was a picture of Madagascar and the logging going on there. Just from the perspective that you see of the earth, what sorts of ideas of human influence do you see from 250 miles above the earth?

Paolo Nespoli:Well, when you come up here and you look out of the window, and most of the time you see ocean and clouds, and then sometimes you even have difficulties on seeing the actual ground, the continents. And then little by little you start acquiring this acuity, you literally start seeing details. And at the beginning, the human presence is not so evident, and then it becomes more and more and more evident, up to the point that when you go there and it’s night you essentially see the planet lit up, all the continent’s lit up like a Christmas tree. And in some of the places in Europe and the united states are the presence of the human beings. It’s incredible. And then, you start focusing on other things, like you see rivers, you see how there’s a shape. You see how things have changed, how as human beings have trying to model nature according to our needs and not ourself according to the needs of nature. And this change becomes really apparent. There in that picture that you’re referring to, you see essentially all the red dirt that is washing over on the ocean. Not anymore kept by the forest by the plants– by the plants there in Madagascar. And this is so evident it’s really clear from up here that we are a major force into this planet and we are changing nature. Is that good, is that bad? I’m not sure about it. For sure we probably need to pay attention to what we are doing if we want to keep the environment as it is today or yesterday.

Megan Sumner: Wow, that’s really interesting. Similar to that, Natalie is asking, “if you’ve observed a change in color of the sunrises and sunsets due to the wildfires across North America?” Or maybe if you’ve been able to see anything, any of the wildfires?”

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: We’ve seen the wildfires when we were over in Oregon and Washington last month. Unfortunately, the way our day cycle works, we’re not going over California where a time where we’re typically looking outside during daylight. So none of us have really seen the northern California wildfires that much yet. You can see certainly the smoke obscures the look down, but haven’t seen any changes to the overall atmosphere or the color of the sun because it’s just not that many– that much particulate when you’re looking at it at a global scale.

Gary Jordan:So Komrade, kind of similar question. Recently, again, we were looking at a lot of the photos that you’re sharing on social media, but recently there’ve been quite a few hurricanes that have hit the united states, Puerto rice, a lot of the Caribbean islands and you shared your perspective of that view. Can you– I mean, the pictures can tell one story, but just from your perspective, what was it like seeing it from the space station, the hurricanes?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: Certainly, the formation of weather can be a real beautiful thing and hurricanes have their own shape and do amazing things with the clouds. But it’s when you realize the destructive power underneath it it ceases being as beautiful. And certainly, the first one for us was Hurricane Harvey that went right over our families, and our homes, and our friends, and mission control down there in Houston. And so, that was– you say, “too close to home.” Well, that was at home so that was too close to home for us. So then the parade of hurricanes after that was just disheartening because there were just so many, and so many people affected, and so much devastation that it– we were taking pictures to hopefully help the researchers that are using those to figure out how hurricanes form, how they continue to manifest themselves, what we can do to protect ourselves. And then, it was taking pictures afterwards, high resolution photography, mapping the areas to show where there was flooding or destruction that we didn’t know about at that point because there still wasn’t communication or camera crews were able to go out and picture stuff. So it was an unfortunate project that we ended up doing, but hopefully the work we did up here translates into some science, and we’re able to translate it into actual practical stuff that’ll help people in the future.

Gary Jordan:I would think it did. It’s such a unique perspective.

Megan Sumner: Yeah, absolutely. Seeing the hurricanes and the flooding and all of that from space is just really an outside perspective that you just can’t see when you are right here next to it. So it’s very interesting. And similar to that, Natalie wants to know if you could talk to us about the WORF rack, what types of photos do you take from there, and how do you use photography for science.

Joe Acaba: Yeah, so we have various projects that we’ll do, and actually the WORF rack is right here beneath us. It’s one of the best windows that we have on the space station. It’s very well protected, so very pristine, and we can get some really cool photos. Unfortunately for us, it’s usually covered up, so we don’t get an opportunity to use it too often. But there’s a lot of science that goes on. I know when I was here last time, we had the EarthKam project going on where middle school children were taking photos and learning about those different parts of the world. We were also using it for agricultural purposes to map different things, so it’s a multipurpose window, and it is just a very unique perspective that you can get from here. And then you can put the cameras at different angles, you can do the different times of the year, different times of the day. So it has a lot of flexibility. It’s pretty cool.

>> [ indistinct ]

Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei: There’s also– I know we’ve done– there’s an experiment that’s been going on with analyzing the spectrum of meteors that are falling towards the earth and using diffraction gratings with the lens. So there’s some really interesting science that can come out of photography.

Gary Jordan:So Sabot and Joe, both of you have been educators in the past, and– Joe just being a middle school teacher, and Sabot with– at west point. But is there sort of an education perspective that you can do from sharing your view of the earth? Or maybe some other experiments you’re doing onboard the station that you can use to share with others.

Joe Acaba: Well, I think as an educator, one of the most important tools that you can have is sharing experiences and real life experiences. So as much as we can do that to help teachers that are out there and provide them more tools to do their job. Since we’ve been here, it’s been non-stop. It’s kind of like the beginning of the school year, where you’re kind of getting on your feet, getting the ball rolling. But then we had dragon, and then we had two spacewalks already, so to be honest with you, that’s the kind of experience that we want to share. And hopefully by doing that and by recording that, whether it’s with photos, video– we can share that experiences with teachers who can then share that with their students.

Megan Sumner: That’s awesome. It’s so interesting to so many of us down here, so we appreciate being able to hear about the awesome work you guys are doing. I have to mention, Komrade, I’m getting a lot of comments on Facebook about your shirt– people really love it, so I had to tell you that. Joseph wants to know, “what’s the most amazing photo you took?” So does anybody have a favorite picture yet so far?

Paolo Nespoli:It’s– it’s relatively easy up here to do time lapses, which means a lot of photos. And they can go good or totally bad. I mean, I’ve done thousand picture completely wasted. Thank god it’s not film anymore and electrons don’t cost too much. But I got a couple of time lapses pretty good. The one that I think was probably the best is one of the aurora in the north. So it was aurora borealis. And I can– I don’t know that night what happened, but the space of the aurora, the colors toward the ground, and the shadows went all the way down under us. And this was, to me, incredible, all that sequence of pictures.

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: And I think Paolo mentioned earlier about the earth is ever changing. For me, to pick out one after just the few months we’ve been here is impossible. It’s every day there’s one or two that I go, “wow, that was just so amazing. I’m so fortunate to be able to have seen that.” And that’s a lot of the stuff that we’re trying to post and share with you guys, because every day is full of amazing pictures. And my folder of amazing pictures from space just keeps growing daily.

Mark “Sabot” Vande Hei: I’d say my favorite photo so far is one of, frankly, Italy and the alps that we happened– I think Komrade drew my attention to it, got me to look down during the spacewalk, and I snapped a couple pictures. The camera did a lot of great work for me, because all I could really do in that situation was press the button. And the pictures turned out great– really brightly lit Japanese module of the space station in the foreground, and Italy and the alps in the background.

>> [ indistinct ].

Joe Acaba: Yeah, and if I could just add, probably one of my favorites was taken just a few minutes ago. And Komrade and I had a conference that was scheduled with some of our flight directors looking at the upcoming spacewalk, and asked of me, “where are we right now?” He’s like, “i think that’s south America.” And I said, “well, is Puerto rice going to be coming up?” And he’s like, “wow, there it is right there.” So we grabbed cameras right away, and it was just a beautiful day. I know people are still recovering over in Puerto rice, so hopefully I can get these pictures out and they can see how beautiful their island looks from up here. But it was pretty cool to take that today.

Megan Sumner: Wow, good timing. That is awesome. We can’t wait to see those pictures, and I know the people in Puerto rice will be really, really anxious to see that. All right, so we’ve got a couple questions about the exposure times on your cameras. Can you guys talk a little bit about that?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: Typically for daytime Earth Obs, we’re shooting, a lot of times, shutter priority and we’re shooting for one over the focal length. So if you’ve got a 400mm lens like this big monster, you’re shooting 1/400 and letting the camera take care of the aperture. Nighttime is certainly different. Depends on whether or not we’ve got moon or we don’t. At that point, we’re setting up the cameras on arms so that we’re not jiggling them, like a tripod on the ground. And we’re shooting anywhere from a second, to two second, up to even– Paolo was shooting this week a tenth of a second because it was so bright with the moon over the ground. So you kind of adjust for the conditions to be able to get the shots on the time of day.

Megan Sumner: Great, thanks. All right, Jessica is saying, “hi from Chicago. Can you recall a time when you saw something from up there that was impossible to be captured on camera, or something that just doesn’t do justice on camera that you wish to share?”

Paolo Nespoli:It’s really interesting, because you never know what you’re going to get. And actually, you never know what you’re going to see, to start with. More or less you can predict, but the condition changes so drastically that you can wait for the whole day for a pass over Italy, for example, just to discover that it’s completely covered by clouds. You don’t even see where it is. Or the opposite. Or you’re doing something, you’re there doing exercise. We have the cupola right there where we’re doing exercise. You’re there doing a set of something and suddenly, an island appears out of the blue and is incredible colors. [ laughter ] I just lost the question. What was the question?

>> [ indistinct ].

Paolo Nespoli:Ah, yes. So there are a lot of things that cannot be– I mean, the camera cannot translate, and– because it’s very difficult to see the light. For example, I find it very difficult to take pictures when the sun goes down, because there is this huge bright sun there and you’re trying to capture something else and you cannot do it. So in space, there are huge contrasts between the full day and the full night. There is nothing in the middle there, and it’s very difficult to transition. For example, when we do a nighttime time lapses and we set up the camera for night, as soon as we get the sun, just a little bit of sun out it’s totally washed out. And I would love, for example, to show this transition as we see it with the eye that adjusts continuously. This transition from night to day, this is something that I still haven’t figured out a way to do it. Maybe we’ll think about it and we’ll work on it.

Gary Jordan:Well, Komrade, that kind of makes me think of– I know very soon– I think on October 23rd you want to do a sort of around the world in 90 minutes and then kind of share your perspective of a great pass over a lot of populated cities and various features of the earth. Can you talk about what your plans are for that, what you’re going to do over those 90 minutes?

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: Well, it’s not just me. It’s going to end up being a crew project. And the thought was to show everybody on the ground what it’s like, and the features that capture our attention during each minute of those 90 minutes in one revolution of the earth, whether it’s day or night. And ideally people are engaged and they can then add to the project and the conversation– what was going on on the ground at that moment themselves– and kind of create this moment in time where we circle the globe, and what was the world doing at that moment? And so we’ll be trying to take those pictures. I think we haven’t quite settled on a date yet, but yes, it’ll be after we finish our last EVAs, and something that we hope is a global project that’ll include most of the world’s population that we can get in a single pass, and really show off, showcase one revolution of our planet.

Gary Jordan:Can’t wait to see what you have planned for that. Well, gentlemen, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the podcast today and share your perspective of earth. It’s just so unique– literally no one else on this planet has that perspective. So thank you so much for taking the time to do that. And I know this is the end of the day for you, too, so again, appreciate all four of you participating in this. So just want to wish you the best of luck on the rest of your mission, and Godspeed. Can’t wait til you guys get home.

Randy “Komrade” Bresnik: Thank you very much, Gary. We’ll look forward to the next time we get to talk to you, and ready– break.

Houston ACR: Station, this is Houston ACR. That concludes the event.

Capcom: Thank you to all the participants from JSC PAO. Station, we are now resuming operational audio communication.

Gary Jordan:Aw, fantastic. How ’bout that, Megan?

Megan Sumner: That was amazing!

Gary Jordan:Four astronauts. We got to see their perspective of the planet. And I know we were thrown some images– those were actual images that they took while they were actually– some of the still photography that the camera they actually showed while they were up there, but then some of those time lapses that Paolo was talking about, too. Absolutely just such a unique perspective.

Megan Sumner: Yeah, it’s so cool to talk to them and to hear a little bit about their experience. And of course, you can see all those pictures on their social media sites. And just amazing pictures they’ve taken.

Gary Jordan:Yeah, let’s go through them. So who can we follow on the station?

Megan Sumner: All right, so all four of those guys we just talked to are all on Twitter, so you can follow them all on Twitter. Komrade is @astrokomrade. Joe is @astroacaba. Sabot is @astro_Sabot. Paolo is @astro_paolo. And you can follow all the astronauts at @NASA_astronauts. And also, Komrade and Paolo are also on Instagram. So if you like Instagram, you can look them up on Instagram and see all their pictures.

Gary Jordan:That’s right, yeah. And we try to kind of consolidate that into that astronauts account, too, so you can just see everyone’s pictures. And they are some amazing photos. Again, these photos that we’re sharing with you, a lot of them were actually shared on their Twitter account, so you can follow along on that journey. And I know that each of them have a couple months left, so there’s plenty of images to see over these next couple of months. If you have a question about astronaut photography or anything NASA related, just go on your favorite social media network and use the hashtag #askNASA. If you want to ask us specifically a question on “Houston, we have a podcast” just mention us in that #askNASA question. #hwhap I think is the one we like to use for hwhap just so you can limit all those characters, especially for Twitter. But if you’re not following “Houston, we have a podcast” already, shameless plug. I’d say go and subscribe on whatever podcast avenue you listen to. I know we’re on iTunes, SoundCloud, and We just recently got on Google Play, so whatever medium you like to listen to your podcasts at. So I think that’ll do it for us here. Again, if you have any questions, use the hashtag #NASA, and be sure to subscribe to “Houston, we have a podcast.” And we’ll see you next time, hopefully the next time we’re on camera talking to space.

Megan Sumner: Yeah.

Gary Jordan:I hope so. So subscribe to “Houston, we have a podcast.” We’ll see you next time.

[ music ]

[ indistinct radio chatter ]

>> Welcome to space.

[ music ]

Gary Jordan:Hey, thanks for sticking around. So I think we plugged most of the things that we wanted to talk about, all the astronaut accounts that you can follow, and NASA astronauts, and where you can subscribe to “Houston, we have a podcast,” which, if you’re listening to this right now, congratulations– you did a good job. But this podcast was recorded on October 13, 2017. Thanks to Alex Perryman, John Stoll, Tommy Gerczak, Paula Vargas, Charles Clendaniel, Greg Wiseman, Bill Stafford, Josh Valcarcel, Rob Navias, and of course Megan Sumner. Thanks again to Komrade, Sabot, Joe Acaba, and Paolo Nespoli for coming on the show. We’ll be back next week.