Photographing Earth from the Cupola on the International Space Station


NASA’s Image of the Day today is a photograph showing one of the best photo op spots to be found on the International Space Station: the Cupola module. The image (shown above) shows astronaut and flight engineer Chris Cassidy pointing a Nikon DSLR and 400mm lens out one of the Cupola’s windows to photograph some location on Earth 250 miles below him.

The Cupola is a popular module to shoot Earth photos from due to its seven large windows that offer a fantastic view of the Earth spinning below. One of the 31-inch windows found in the Cupola is the largest window ever used in space.


Here’s what it looks like when astronauts are observing Earth from inside the Cupola:




The Cupola module gets its name from the Italian word “cupola,” which means “dome.” Prior to the module being attached to the ISS in February 2010, astronauts were limited to looking at Earth through smaller portholes, the largest of which was 20 inches.

A large number of the Earth photos beamed down to us from the ISS have been captured by astronauts from within the Cupola:


















Here’s a video in which astronaut Mike Fossum gives us a guided tour of the Cupola:

Image credits: Photographs by NASA and CSA

  • Alys Nawawi

    seeing the pictures Col. Hadfield took ( he still posts on his FB! though not as frequently ) from the ISS remains a joy. I hope he can make a book of them

  • Richard

    This is a wonderful collection of images of the astronaut/photographers. Well done.

  • cezarjont

    lucky astronauts… damn…

  • Mantis

    Looks like the cockpit of the motherfreakin’ Millenium Falcon.

  • crummett

    Imagine being able to handhold a 400!

  • Gman

    surely they should be using Hasselblad Lunar’s? You dropped the ball NASA…

    Seriously though, how does VR work on those lenses in zero gravity?

  • ope

    You Would think they’d try to lessen payload weight by not taking so many cameras

  • coaguloso

    looking at those pictures and made me chuckle the idea of not needing a tripod, because cameras donĀ“t fall in space, you just have to get really still

  • tbreezy

    or you could just take higher-res pictures without the distortion of the glass of the cupola, and the steel frame of the cupola blocking the shots. Satellite.

  • Geff

    That is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while, LMAO!!!

  • superduckz

    Take THAT you lowly earthbound landscape photographers! Ansel who? LOL
    I don’t often experience envy… but damm.. DAMM that is so freaking cool.

  • 103David

    Just roll the window down for ultimate clarity. The dog will like being able hang-out with his ears flapping in the wind too.

  • 103david

    Someone once asked Galen Rowell the secret of his imaging. “Shoot at f8…and be there,” he said.
    Anybody got a spare ticket to the ISS?

  • Alex White

    It looks like NASA is sponsored by Nikon..

  • Douglas James

    any links to the higher def images?