Astronauts living and working onboard the International Space Station enjoy one of the most stunning views of planet Earth — and fortunately for the rest of us, they're generous in sharing the spectacle.
According to ESA, the video is the longest continual time-lapse video captured from space. The view includes two orbits of the Earth, each of which would take 90 minutes in real time, with the station's orbital path covering Tunisia, Beijing and Australia.
But courtesy of Gerst and the approximately 21,375 photographs he took of Earth, the video covers that ground in just 15 minutes. That entails speeding up the view to about 12.5 times the space station's real orbital pace.
ESA released the video to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the very first module of the space station, the Zarya module, which launched aboard a Russian rocket on Nov. 20, 1998. It took about two years to launch enough segments of the orbiting laboratory to support the constant presence of astronauts, but the space station has been continuously inhabited by astronauts for 18 years now.