Astrophotographers often produce breathtaking images of distant galaxies, planets, and moons from Earth. But Dr Sebastain Voltmer captured something very different and yet equally incredible, last week. He photographed the International Space Station (ISS) while astronauts Matthias Maurer and Raja Chari were outside performing a spacewalk. This may be the first ground-based image that has captured two astronauts out on a spacewalk at the same time.
The photograph was taken on March 23 from Sankt Wendel in Germany. That's the hometown of the European Space Agency (ESA)’s Maurer. The spacewalk was the first one for Maurer and together with NASA’s Chari, they worked on a series of tasks, including replacing an external camera, installing a new power cable on the Columbus module, and hoses on a radiator beam valve module. This last one is important for the system that keeps the space station at the right temperature.
The extravehicular activity, which lasted six hours and 54 minutes in total, was certainly eventful for Maurer who had some issues with his camera and light at the beginning. He also had some water accumulating in his helmet. Maurer was never at risk, but water in your helmet can be very dangerous, as these two astronauts demonstrated.
Fellow ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano almost drowned in space due to this happening in 2013, while NASA’s Garett Reisman feared he might drown on a spacewalk when it happened to him sometime in the late 2000s. Fortunately, they were all OK.
Now Maurer (and all of us) can enjoy seeing himself not just in close-up video from the ISS but also from 400 kilometers away thanks to Voltmer’s fantastic images.