An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) recently shared an “interesting” daylight sighting of a bright dot in the middle of a desert on Earth. “A bright dot in the Negev desert … it is unusual to see man-made lights in the daytime!” European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti tweeted sharing three photos showing a distant white spot against a gray landscape.
In the caption, Ms Cristoforetti explained a bit about its origins. “It is a concentrated solar power plant, one of the technologies for obtaining renewable energy from the sun. With one of the tallest solar power towers in the world,” she said.
Take a look below:
Interesting view! A bright dot in the Negev desert… so unusual to see man-made lights in the daytime! It is a concentrated solar power plant, which is one of the technologies for obtaining renewable energy from the sun. With one of the tallest solar power towers in the world! #missionminerva pic.twitter.com/MFbCpXpxmG
— Samantha Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) 25 August 2022
According to CNET, the bright dot was visible because of the Ashlim Solar Thermal Power Station, which uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto an 820-foot-tall tower in Israel’s Negev desert. This tower is considered one of the tallest solar power towers in the world. It is large enough to produce a noticeable point of light that Ms Cristoforetti observed from the ISS.
Here’s an image from 2020 of what it looks like from a little closer to the ground:
— Israel in New York (@IsraelinNewYork) 10 January 2020
Ms Cristoforetti also added the hashtag #MissionMinerva to her post. Minerva is the name of his second expedition to the ISS. According to ESA website, Ms Cristoforetti first flew to the station in 2014 for her Italian Space Agency ASI-sponsored mission ‘Futura’.
Earlier this year, she was launched again from Florida as part of Crew-4 on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to serve as the lead for all US Orbital Segment (USOS) operations.
Meanwhile, since being shared, Ms Cristoforetti’s tweet has taken the internet by storm. Commenting on the post, a user wrote, “Light of hope for our environment”. Another said, “It’s hard to see from your photos, but easy once zoomed in. I’ll bet it’s really easy to pick it up individually. Maybe shine like a star on Earth.” “Very impressive,” commented a third. “what a view!” Said the fourth.