International Space Station

Overview

Photograph of the ISS.

The International Space Station (ISS) is more powerful, and 4 times larger, than any human space craft ever built. ISS flies in an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees, approximately 240 miles above the Earth, in a path that covers 90% of the world’s population.

The ISS is a "global observation and diagnosis station." It promotes international Earth observations aimed at understanding and resolving the environmental issues of our home planet. 

The space station offers a unique vantage for observing the Earth's ecosystems with hands-on and automated equipment. These options enable astronauts to observe and explain what they witness in real time. Station crews can observe and collect camera images of events as they unfold and may also provide input to ground personnel programming the station's automated Earth-sensing systems. This flexibility is an advantage over sensors on unmanned spacecraft, especially when unexpected natural events, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, occur. 

A wide variety of Earth-observation payloads can be attached to the exposed facilities on the station's exterior; already, several instruments have been proposed by researchers from the partner countries. The station contributes to humanity by collecting data on the global climate, environmental change and natural hazards using its unique complement of crew-operated and automated Earth-observation payloads. 

The existing international partnerships, fundamental to the International Space Station, facilitate data sharing that can benefit people around the world and promote international collaboration on other Earth-observation activities. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, enabling research and technology developments that will benefit human and robotic exploration of destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including asteroids and Mars. It is the blueprint for global cooperation – one that enables a multinational partnership and advances shared goals in space exploration.

Learn more: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/overview/index.html

Latest Updates

February 9, 2017
The interactive map on the website shows images of areas with fires or floods, taken by NASA's AQUA satellite and the International Space Station (ISS).
Visit the interactive map website: http://science.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=9ef5b5839... The interactive map on the website shows images of areas with fires or floods, taken by NASA's AQUA satellite and the International Space Station (ISS). The United States and Argentina have combined resources to produce a Spanish language...
August 29, 2017
Astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photo of Tropical Storm Harvey from the International Space Station on Aug. 28 at 1:27 p.m. CDT.
NASA has a lot of resources providing information on Tropical Storm Harvey as it continues to drop tremendous, flooding rainfall on Texas and Louisiana. Satellites like NASA's Aqua satellite and platforms like aircraft and the International Space Station continue to provide various kinds of data on the storm. "NASA focuses on developing new research capabilities that can be used by our partners in the operational and response communities," said Dalia Kirschbaum, Research Physical Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "While we continue to innovate in the...
January 25, 2016
On Jan. 23 at 5 a.m. EST, RapidScat showed sustained winds as strong as 45 meters per second (100 mph/162 kph) along the coast of southern New Jersey, which included areas from Cape May to Atlantic City.
NASA satellites obtained a number of different views of the great winter storm that left many snowfall records from Virginia to New York City from January 22 to 24, 2016. RapidScat provided a look at the strong winds that led to flooding in southern New Jersey, while NASA's Aqua satellite and NASA/USGS's Landsat satellite provided images of the post-storm snowy blanket. On Jan. 23 at 5 a.m. EST, RapidScat showed sustained winds as strong as 45 meters per second (100 mph/...
October 23, 2015
Hurricane Patricia as seen from the International Space Station on Friday afternoon, October 23, 2015
The ISS sees Hurricane Patricia.  Hurricane Patricia as seen from the International Space Station on Friday afternoon, October 23, 2015   Wind speed and direction near the ocean surface, as measured on October 23 by the ISS-RapidScat. Brighter shades of blue represent stronger surface winds.