Science

Astrophotographer Spots Spacewalking Astronauts From Earth, Captures Incredible Photo

From Earth, those taking photographers of space often capture magnificent images of distant galaxies, planets, and moons. Last week, however, astrophotographer Sebastian Voltmer captured something completely different. On March 23, NASA astronaut Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA) spent nearly seven hours outside the International Space Station (ISS), completing various maintenance tasks. While Chari and Maurer were on their spacewalk, Voltmer took photos of the space station. Though we can’t say if this is the first such image from the Earth of astronauts on a spacewalk, it’s nevertheless stunning.

This image of the spacewalk action was captured by Voltmer from Maurer’s hometown — Sankt Wendel in Germany.

Voltmer wrote on SpaceWeather.com, “During the spacewalk of the two astronauts Raja Chari and Matthias Maurer the International Space Station appeared shortly after sunset in the bright evening sky over Germany. This image of the ISS pass was taken on March 23, 2022, under good seeing conditions through my C11 EdgeHD telescope from the hometown of ESA astronaut Dr. Matthias Maurer.”

Maurer can be seen as the small dot on the ISS in the first photograph. Voltmer tweeted that he was “just ‘climbing’ at this moment”.

Voltmer wrote on in SpaceWeather.com, “Due to my time constraints, I released this version right away on the internet, which then went viral, while I continued to work on the final image version with both highlighted astronauts.”

A couple of days later, Philip Smith, “a world well-known photographer of all things ISS”, contacted Voltmer, saying that he could also spot Chari in the image. Smith, then, went on to create a new version of the photograph that included Chari’s position as well.

Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari is the commander of the SpaceX crew currently docked at the ISS. A NASA blog stated that installing hoses on a Radiator Beam Valve Module that feeds ammonia through the station’s heat-rejecting radiators to keep systems at the right temperature were Maurer and Chari’s main tasks on the day of their spacewalk.

This was Chari’s second spacewalk and Maurer’s first. It was the 248th spacewalk for space station assembly, maintenance, and upgrades.


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