Alexander Gerst's Earth timelapses is a new time-lapse video of the Earth, showing our planet as a "pale blue dot," as well as recording the majesty of nature. The Earth is seen from images taken by Gerst from the International Space Station (ISS), creating a six-minute long film of our home planet.
The Blue Dot mission included taking 12,500 images of our home planet over 166 days, and then compiling them together into the new video. Gerst flew aboard the orbiting outpost for nearly six months before returning to Earth, serving as the flight engineer for Expedition 40 and 41.
"Seen from a distance, our planet is just a blue dot, a fragile spaceship for humankind. We need to understand the Universe we live in to protect our home," Gerst said.
Sunrises, sunsets, auroras, and more are seen in the video, revealing Earth as a dynamic body in space, interacting with charged particles. Unlike more traditional views of Earth, the Blue Dot video resembles a science-fiction movie, even seeming surreal at times. During parts of the new film, the perspective makes it look like the viewer is skimming low over the surface of the planet. Photos were taken through automated exposures while Gerst was working on various experiments.
"Marvel at the auroras, sunrises, clouds, stars, oceans, the Milky Way, the International Space Station, lightning, cities at night, spacecraft and the thin band of atmosphere that protects us from space," ESA officials wrote in the video description.
Some of the most stunning views seen in the time-lapse film show the atmosphere in action. Clouds and lightning show the majesty and raw power of storm systems as they roll across the planet.
The human race is apparent in the film, as artificial lights from urban areas draw out lines and patterns across the darkened landscape. At times, the video resemble scenes in Carl Sagan's Contact, when Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster, first encounters an alien inhabited planet.
Release of the Blue Dot video was timed as a holiday present for the people of Earth from the European Space Agency and travelers aboard the ISS. The name of the mission refers to a picture taken of Earth by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990. That photo, taken at a distance of 3.7 billion miles from our home planet, was taken at the behest of Sagan. This new video is a stunning new view of our home planet, and one worthy of becoming a descendant of its namesake photograph.
Alexander Gerst's Earth timelapses was released on the European Space Agency YouTube channel.