NASA Shutdown Unleashes Beautiful Astronaut Photos on Twitter

US astronaut Karen Nyberg tweeted this striking photo of storm clouds above Ghana  as seen from the International Space Station.on October 8, 2013. Credit: Karen Nyberg/NASA

Despite the two-week old  government shutdown and NASA’s official online presence going completely dark, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have still been tweeting away and sharing some pretty spectacular snapshots.

During the shutdown, NASA has kept Mission Control lights on at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, making sure that all communication lines are kept open with the international orbiting laboratory and that its six crew members are kept safe.  U.S. ISS astronauts Karen Nyberg  (@AstroKarenN) and Mike Hopkins (@AstroIllini) have kept mum on the government shenanigans, but it obviously hasn’t stopped them from sharing some breath-taking views from orbit.  Here’s just a select few cosmic portraits that caught our eye.

Hopkins managed to capture a blast of green auroras from a unique perspective about a week ago.

 

A day after, looking out the porthole Hopkins saw this bizarre cloud formation that turned out to be from a missile launch by Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces

 

From nearly 400 kilometers in altitude very distinctive human-made structures can be made out, like in Dubai.

The southernmost tip of the African continent with the Atlantic Ocean above and Indian Ocean below.

 

Clouds speckle the skies above a sparkling inlet along the western coast of India that leads into the Arabian Sea.

 

 

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Changing Planet

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.