Canadarm Soars Above Waves of Aurora

The aurora australis glows beneath the ISS in this photo taken on July 15, 2012

Sparked by a coronal mass ejection emitted from a sunspot on July 12, Earth’s aurora leapt into action both at the north and south poles three days later. Here we can see a view of the southern lights, or aurora australis, shimmering in green waves below the Space Station’s Canadarm on July 15.

With 7 joints of rotation, the 17-meter-long Canadarm can move end-over-end across the exterior of the ISS (attaching to Power Grapple Fixtures at either end as it goes) to allow expedition crews to manipulate objects both large and small outside the Station. Launched in 2001, it’s one of the ISS’s most essential tools.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 32 flight engineer Joe Acaba recorded the series of images from the Station’s Tranquility node.

Image: NASA