The International Space Station is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japan Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency. Many people wonder how we can see the International Space Station from the surface of the Earth.
Characteristics of the International Space Station
In general, it can be said that the International Space Station is a huge machine located in orbit around the Earth. 386 kilometers from Earth, it was about 108 meters long, and 88 meters wide and weighed about 415 tons when it was built in 2010. With a living volume of approximately 1,300 cubic meters, its complexity will surpass anything previously conceived. It can permanently house up to seven astronauts, who will interact and communicate with each other as the mission demands. Its power is provided by the largest solar panels ever built at 110 kilowatts.
Summary of 2010 features:
- Width: 108 m
- Length: 88 m
- Mass: 464 t
- Crew number: 6
- Labs: 4 at the moment
- Living area: 1300 m³
- Speed: 26.000 km/h
Manufacturing space station components is not easy. It is powered by solar panels and cooled by a circuit that distributes heat from the modules, the spaces where the crew lives and works. During the day, the temperature reaches 200ºC, and at night it drops to -200ºC. For this, the temperature should be properly controlled.
Trusses are used to attach solar panels and heaters, and can or sphere-shaped modules are connected by “knots”. Some of the main modules are Zarya, Unity, Zvezda, and Solar Array.
Several space agencies have designed robotic arms to maneuver and transport small payloads, as well as to inspect, install, and replace solar panels. The most famous is the space station telemanipulator developed by the Canadian team. which is distinguished by its length of 17 meters. It has 7 motorized joints and can withstand heavier than normal loads like a human arm (shoulder, elbow, wrist and fingers).
How to see the International Space Station
Have you ever wondered how to see the International Space Station? Yes, it is in the sky, orbiting our Earth. But exactly where is the space station in our orbit right now? NASA and ESA are answering this question in real-time. Thanks to its real-time space station tracking map.
Thanks to this live update map, you’ll be able to see the orbital path the space station is following and the pattern it’s following in relation to its current trajectory. Also, you will see reference information such as latitude, longitude, altitude and speed.
NASA, for its part, has answered some interesting questions you may have asked yourself about the International Space Station at times. For example, is it visible in the sky where you are now? Do you need a telescope to see the International Space Station in the sky? Also, it tells you that it is more visible where you live.
NASA has a website dedicated to the International Space Station (ISS). Your task is to provide us with interesting information about this ergonomic giant. Specifically, if we look at the sky, how do we know where it is, what orbit it follows, and other curiosities. The site is called Spot The Station and is always available in English.
First, you have a map called the Live Space Station Tracking Map. Thanks to this map, you will be able to see the position of the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth. Real-time and hour and a half with previous and future positions. This way you will be able to know the approximate location of the space station by reference to our planet.
This information is provided by the European Space Agency ESA. You can check it out at this link on the dedicated page on the ESA and NASA websites themselves. Also, there you can answer questions about the International Space Station’s destination, orbital speed, and more.
If that’s not enough for you, NASA links to its Image of the Day page. Although it is not directly connected to the International Space Station, on this site you can find high-quality photos of all corners of our planet. It is updated daily, explains in detail what the photo shows and even tells us which satellite the image was taken with. Also, in some images, you can compare the current state of the Earth’s location with previous images.
Where can I see the space station?
In addition to knowing where the International Space Station currently is, you’ll definitely want to look at it. In principle, according to NASA itself, the International Space Station is the third brightest object in the sky and is easy to see. No need for binoculars or a telescope, you can see with your own eyes.
But, of course, the International Space Station is not everywhere. To find out where you can see it, NASA has provided a map showing the best places to see the International Space Station. You can search your location to refine your target or move around the map by zooming in or out until you find your location. You can specify a country, state/region and city in the drop-down lists. Therefore, the map will adjust to the delimitation of the selected area.
After selecting a location, you’ll see a list of dates so you know the best time to see the ISS from there. It will also tell you how many minutes it will be visible, where it will appear and where it will disappear. Perfect for planning your space station display, knowing exactly where you need to be so you don’t miss any details.
Finally, if you sign up on NASA’s homepage, you’ll receive email notifications with new dates and instructions for seeing the ISS in the sky. If you want to observe space, remember the free service.