Astronauts do some amazing things. For one, they risk their lives by launching into space inside $2 billion rockets so that we can better understand our universe. They leave their families for months (sometimes years) at a time to explore the mysteries of space. And sometimes these heroic citizens take on some unique tasks. Take NASA astronaut Don Pettit, for example. 
Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 11.11.43 AM
While orbiting the Earth on Expedition 31, he took a series of photographs. But not just your ordinary Blue Planet pictures we’ve all seen before. Don used a photography technique called “long-exposure” which involves using a long-duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of images while blurring, smearing, or obscuring the moving elements. The result was a series of absolutely breathtaking photos.
Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 11.17.49 AMWhat you are seeing in the pictures are stars, auroras, and thunderstorms across the surface of the Earth. It’s an astounding visualization of all the different sources of light around us. Don took these photos at an altitude of 248 miles, moving at 17,000 miles per hour aboard the International Space Station. Looking at these mesmerizing photographs is just another way for us to truly appreciate the beauty of our world and beyond.