Amazing Earth Views Captured Behind Spacewalking Astronaut (Video)

A new video from the International Space Station shows an astronaut's hunt for an ammonia leak, backdropped by amazing views of Earth.

European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured the footage using a high-definition GoPro camera during a spacewalk on March 24. While the footage is stunning in itself, he shared the video so that ground controllers could double-check his work outside the orbiting complex.

The video shows Pesquet repeatedly jostling hoses at the station's radiator heat belt monitor, where NASA had seen a little leakage during the past year. At one point, Pesquet pulled back the orange-gold protective coating on his helmet to get a better look. The astronaut spent about 2 hours carefully looking for any ammonia flakes, before concluding that he could see no signs of the leak. [Earth From Space: Amazing Astronaut Photos]

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet performs routine maintenance outside the International Space Station during his second spacewalk, on March 24. In this photo, Pesquet uses an extended foot restraint to reach the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, also known as Dextre, the robotic "hand" at the end of Canadarm2. What looks like a selfie stick in his hand is the ball-screw lubrication tool, which Pesquet used to inject grease into a mechanism called the latching end effector. (Image credit: ESA/NASA)

From there, Pesquet's camera moved to some close-ups of the robotic Dextre, more formally known as the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. Dextre, which is an extension of the Canadarm2 robotic arm, required lubrication for its latching end effector, which is used for satellite-refueling demonstrations and for moving equipment around on the station.

In a series of shots, Dextre is shown from close up (with its end effector facing the camera) and from far away, with a shiny Earth in the background. At times, Dextre moved in the camera view, with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson controlling the arm from inside the space station.

Pesquet's camera view briefly panned down to his colleague, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, working on the main task of the spacewalk, which was to prepare the Pressurized Mating Adapter-3 (PMA-3) to install an International Docking Adapter for commercial crew vehicles. Kimbrough also had time to complete a "get-ahead" task, replacing two cameras with broken lights at the Japanese Kibo module. [Spacewalk Photos: Astronauts Prep Space Station for Future Commercial Spacecraft]


The astronauts wrapped up their work in 6 hours and 34 minutes. This spacewalk was the first in a series of three that Expedition 50-51 would tackle this spring. On March 30, Whitson and Kimbrough completed preparations for the International Docking Adapter during a record-breaking spacewalk. On Friday (May 12), Whitson embarked on another spacewalk, with NASA astronaut Jack Fischer, to upgrade and maintain equipment and experiments outside the orbiting lab.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: