Many have looked up at Mt. Everest, in awe at its height and majesty as the world’s tallest peak, one that is attainable by mountaineers but only at great risk. But only a handful of people have looked down upon the Himalayan giant from the International Space Station, and they’ve found that the 29,035-foot Everest, while it definitely stands out, does not look nearly as tall from 250 miles above the planet.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko last month captured the very rare image that accompanies this post. Peter Caltner placed the image in his Twitpic feed on Saturday, which was followed by a tweet from U.S. astronaut and former Space Station resident Ron Garan, and since then the image has hurtled through the Twitterverse.
Garan, who never was able to snap a decent photo of Everest, explained to The Atlantic‘s Rebecca J. Rosen why the task is so difficult:
“The answer is quite simple, all the photos we take from space are taken in the crew’s own personal time. No time is allotted in our work day normally for Earth pictures. So if we want to capture a specific point on the ground we have to first know exactly when we will fly over that spot, second be available to grab a camera and get to a window, and third have the weather and proper sun angles to get a great shot. Over the course of my six months in space I was never able to get all three of those to align for Mt. Everest.”
Alan Boyle, in a NBC News blog, points out that Malenchenko, who has since returned to earth, captured other gem images as well, of such iconic locations as St. Louis, Tokyo and the Sea of Brightness off South Korea.
So while it was mostly work and very little play at the ISS, the rest of us are fortunate that Malenchenko managed to fit in photography as a hobby.
–Top image showing Mt. Everest from space was captured by Yuri Malenchenko and is courtesy of NASA. Bottom image is a generic ground view of the Himalayan peak.
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