This astonishing HD animation was shot by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst while orbiting Earth on the International Space Station. The material is essentially a long series of still images photographed with a resolution of 4256 x 2832 pixels at a rate of one every second. The time-lapse runs 25 times more rapidly than it actually did for those orbiting inside the Space Station.
Gerst is a member of the Expedition 40 crew, which was the 40th expedition to the International Space Station. A part of the Expedition 39 crew moved to Expedition 40 while the rest of the crew launched on May 28, 2014 from Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Once achieving orbit about nine minutes after launch, Soyuz TMA-13M, delivering the remainder of the crew, started a four-orbit rendezvous with the International Space Station.
Soyuz TMA-13M later docked with the Rassvet module on May 29. Hatches were made accessible between the two spacecraft just over two hours later. The expedition concluded with the detaching of Soyuz TMA-12M on September 10, 2014. The rest of Expedition 40’s crew moved on to Expedition 41.
What is notable is that unlike the majority of astronauts, Gerst is in fact a geophysicist who is studying earth sciences in Wellington, New Zealand as well as Karlsruhe, Germany. He earned his PhD in Hamburg, Germany in 2010, along with a dissertation on volcanic eruption dynamics.
Gerst is looking at staying five and a half months on board the International Space Station. While there he whiles the time away kicking around a soccer ball, or as we can see, taking out-of-this-world (literally) images of Earth. When earthbound, Gerst is an avid mountaineer and diver. As part of the 40th mission on the ISS he proof positive that anyone can go to outer space, not just astronauts.