SpaceX Starlink satellite ‘train’ and stunning aurora captured by astronaut

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A photo taken from the space station shows the aurora australis and trails of SpaceX satellites. 

NASA

There’s something better than a bird’s-eye view. It’s the perspective astronauts get to enjoy from the International Space Station.

Whipping around the planet in a relatively low orbit allows for a view of not only a significant chunk of the Earth’s surface, but the atmosphere and space above it as well. 

The above photo was snapped from the ISS on April 13 and shared via NASA’s Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth database. The out of this world (or, at least, above this world) picture shows the bright green aurora australis from a vantage point somewhere over the Indian Ocean.

Look closer at the center of the image and you can see a series of staggered streaks, identified as Starlink satellites owned and operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. 

Satellite tracker Marco Langbroek helpfully annotated the photo to label each of the visible satellites:

Lots of flying routers hidden in plain sight.

NASA/M.Langbroek

Starlink has been a somewhat controversial venture. Its aim is to bring broadband internet service to just about any location on Earth, but that plan involves launching thousands of satellites. With just a few hundred currently in orbit, astronomers say the appliance-size objects are already interfering with scientific observations. 

The issue is that the satellites are more reflective than expected (something SpaceX has pledged to correct), which makes them relatively easy to spot from Earth… and apparently from the space station as well. 

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