Space Station Sunday: A Superstorm, A Super Cut, And The Superbowl

Good afternoon, space fans!  Here's what was up on the ISS this week.

It looks so pretty when you don't have to shovel it.
(Image courtesy astronaut Terry Virts.)

While a massive snowstorm hit the American Northeast, visibility was at near zero on the ground, but the ISS had an amazing view.  NASA astronaut Terry Virts captured a time-lapse flyby of the storm, which blanketed New England and shut down major cities.  The view from above was striking and the video (embedded below) made the winter wonderland look warm...of all the things to have to worry about on the ISS, Earth weather isn't one of them!

Another Earthly event was of interest aboard the ISS today, as Commander Butch Wilmore and astronaut Terry Virts wore their favorite American football jerseys in celebration of the Super Bowl.  Wilmore (a Tennessee Titans fan) and Virts (a Baltimore Ravens fan) sent a video message home saying that both were excited to watch from their "skybox", and were even more psyched that someday, the big game might be seen on Mars!

Speaking of football, the ISS shares a little something in common with the gridiron:  size.  The ISS covers about the same area as a standard American football field.  Except thanks to the constant orbit, 260 miles above the Earth, it will never make a "touchdown."

Microgravity football (and tackles) would be amazing to watch.  Someday, spacefarers, someday.
(Image courtesy

As for business as usual on the ISS this week, the crew maintained their fruit fly study, which studies immune system reactions to microbes in space.  Fruit fly immune systems are similar enough to humans' that they make for good (and much more portable) test subjects.  The astronauts also packed the recently-arrived SpaceX Dragon capsule with materials to be safely sent back home for scientific study, and prepared for several spacewalks which will commence this month.

Commander Wilmore prepares for a little trip outside.  More to follow soon!
(Image courtesy

Coolest of all, the Robonaut humanoid robot aboard the ISS got a little more lifelike this week, when astronaut Terry Virts enabled its new robotic legs.  Known as "R2", Robonaut will be assisting with human-like tasks in and around the ISS.  Virts posted this image on his Twitter.

"Lieutenant Robonaut, you got legs!"
(Image courtesy Terry Virts / NASA.)

However, there's some things you just on't entrust to robots, like fashion sense.  Thus, Virts also helped ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti maintain her awesome haircut, which looks extra rock-n-roll thanks to microgravity spiking it for her.  

Not only clippers are needed, but a hair vacuum (held by cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov) as well, to prevent bits of locks floating around.
(Image courtesy

That's all for these 112 Earth orbits, space cadets!  See you next week with more extra-atmospheric this space!

                                                                 Stay cool, Earthlings!
                                                    (Video courtesy Terry Virts / NASA.)

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