Here's something new from NASA.
The space agency will send you an email when the International Space Station is visible flying over your house, sort of. If you sign up for NASA's "Spot the Station" program, you'll actually be asked to pick a city from a list where the station will be most visible. The closest to University City is St. Louis.
"Several times a week, Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, determines sighting opportunities for 4,600 locations worldwide," the space agency says on its website. "If your specific city or town isn’t listed, pick one that is fairly close to you. The space station is visible for a long distance around each of the listed locations. NASA then will send out an email detailing the days (nights) when the space station is visible travelling overhead. The space agency says the station is the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon."
It's as easy as that. According to NASA: "The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, though one with people living and working aboard it more than 200 miles above the ground. It is best viewed on clear nights. The space station is easy to see if you know where and when to look for it."
Some facts about the International Space Station:
- The station marked its 10th anniversary of continuous human occupation on Nov. 2, 2010. Since Expedition 1, launched Oct. 31, 2000, and docked Nov. 2, the space station has been visited by 204 individuals.
- At the time of the anniversary, the station’s odometer read more than 1.5 billion statute miles (the equivalent of eight round trips to the Sun), over the course of 57,361 orbits around the Earth.
- As of July 2012, there were 125 launches to the space station since the launch of the first module, Zarya, on Nov. 20, 1998: 81 Russian vehicles, 37 space shuttles, one U.S. commercial vehicle, three European and three Japanese vehicles. The final space shuttle mission July 8-21, 2011 by Atlantis, delivered 4.5 tons of supplies in the Raffaello logistics module.
- A total of 162 spacewalks have been conducted in support of space station assembly totaling more than 1,021 hours.
- The space station, including its large solar arrays, spans the area of a U.S. football field, including the end zones, and weighs 861,804 pounds, not including visiting vehicles. The complex now has more livable room than a conventional five-bedroom house, and has two bathrooms, a gymnasium and a 360-degree bay window.
International Space Station Size & Mass
- Module Length: 167.3 feet (51 meters)
- Truss Length: 357.5 feet (109 meters)
- Solar Array Length: 239.4 feet (73 meters)
- Mass: 924,739 pounds (419,455 kilograms)
- Habitable Volume: 13,696 cubic feet (388 cubic meters)
- Pressurized Volume: 32,333 cubic feet (916 cubic meters)
- Power Generation: 8 solar arrays = 84 kilowatts
- Lines of Computer Code: approximately 2.3 million
NASA will tell you the best nights to look for the station. It's worth checking out. After all, how often do you see something the size of a football field flying over your house?
Go here to sign up for the Spot the Station.