Ever wonder what it would feel like to fly over Earth in space? How about in less than 60 seconds?
This time-lapse video from the International Space Station is about as close as you'll ever get to this feeling with both feet still on the ground:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/PdDEpC0uHWI?version=3&hl=en_US expand=1]
According to the Daily Mail, the film was created by science teacher James Drake and starts over the Pacific Ocean moving over North and South America and entering daylight near Antarctica. Drake created the video by putting together 600 images from the ISS.
In the video, you can see Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, various large conurbations in Texas, New Mexico, Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Yucatan Peninsula. Look closely around the top of Earth and you will see the ionosphere -- a thin yellow line -- and stars, which look like little flashes of lightening, are also visible. View more of Drake's work on his blog.
Although Drake's video over Earth ends in Antarctica, there are more wonders coming from the International Space Station over this continent. NASA astronauts recently released a video of the aurora australis -- or the Southern Lights above Antarctica -- from their spaceship view:
If you are wondering what creates these spectacular light shows, another article from the Daily Mail has the story:
When high-energy particles from the Sun strike oxygen atoms in our atmosphere, the atoms 'release' the energy in the form of light particles, or photons. These tend to be emitted at wavelengths centered at 0.558 micrometers, or millionths of a metre - which the human eye perceives as green.
Light from the sun 'reflects' off plant leaves at the same wavelength, which is why plants look green to us.
Red lights are created by a longer wavelength. Other colors can be generated as well, but it just depends on the energy of the particles and the altitude where impact between oxygen and nitrogen occurs.