First Flash Observed by Crew of the International Space Station

March 22, 2012

ISS flash2 336_0833 darker

Photographer: Don Pettit
Summary Author: Robert Reeves; Robert’s Web site

This image taken from the International Space Station by Flight Engineer Don Pettit shows a 1.6 billion lumen spotlight and a one-watt blue laser aimed at the station at 7:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on March 3, 2012. The night lights of San Antonio are to the left and Austin is to the right. Spotlight ground crewThe space station "flash" lo cation was 40 mi (64 km) north of San Antonio at the Lozano Observatory. In order to aid in identifying the lights as seen from space, the laser and spotlight were cycled on and off at one-second intervals. To view sequence of “on” and “off” photos, see Related Images links below. The spotlight and laser were operated by a combined team from the San Antonio Astronomical Association and the Austin Astronomical Society in cooperation with Don Pettit aboard the space station. This is the first time a "flash the station" effort has succeeded. Astronauts Don Pettit and Dan Burbank first saw the spotlight at a distance of 870 mi (1,400 km) and kept it in view for six minutes.

Photo details: Camera Maker: NIKON CORPORATION; Camera Model: NIKON D3S; Lens: 85.0 mm f/1.4; Focal Length: 85.0mm (35mm equivalent: 85mm); Focus Distance: 4294967295.00m; Aperture: f/1.4; Exposure Time: 0.010 s (1/100); ISO equiv: 6400; Exposure Bias: +2.00 EV; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure Mode: Manual; White Balance: Auto; Light Source: Unknown; Flash Fired: No; Orientation: Normal; Color Space: Adobe RGB (1998); Software: Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows. This image has been darkened to eliminate the bright glare of sunlight reflecting off the cupola windows.