German astronaut Alexander Gerst enjoys taking pictures. What sets him apart from the rest of other photography enthusiasts on Earth is that he has had the opportunity to capture images from space.
Gerst, who served as flight engineer for Expeditions 40 and 41 at the International Space Station (ISS), did not pass up the rare chance to capture photos during his five and a half month expedition onboard the ISS. He would always set up the cameras to automatically capture shots at regular intervals while docking spacecraft or conducting experiments in low Earth orbit.
Before returning to Earth last month, Gerst managed to take thousands of images during his Blue Dot mission. Some of these had been shared on social media over the past year and included images of lightning, auroras, cities at night, spacecraft, oceans, a band of protective atmosphere and a lot more.
Now, the European Space Agency (ESA) shared six months-worth of images Gerst took while he was stationed at the ISS in a time-lapse video that showcases 12,500 of the photos taken by the astronaut.
"Combining 12,500 images taken by Alexander during his six-month Blue Dot mission on the International Space Station, this Ultra High Definition video shows the best our beautiful planet has to offer," the ESA said in its description of the video.
Gerst conducted over 50 experiments during his stay at the microgravity research laboratory as it circled the Earth. Among the research projects and investigations Gerst and the ISS crews conducted involved observations of meteors that enter the atmosphere of the Earth, seedling growth and animal studies.
The crew's study of plant seedlings and zebrafish, which were brought to the ISS, aimed to investigate the effects of microgravity on cells and examine life processes such as growth, development and aging without the impact of gravity.
The highlights of Gerst's mission include a spacewalk, installation of a furnace capable of suspending and cooling molten metal in midair, and docking an Automated Transfer Vehicle.
Gerst, along with NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and Russian commander Maxim Suraev, returned to Earth early November aboard the Soyuz TMA-13M, which also carried them to the ISS in May. All three scientists were monitored to assess how they readapt to Earth's gravity after spending nearly six months in a weightless environment.
Below is the six-minute time-lapse video of Alexander Gerst's images taken from space: