NEW DELHI: If you live in Delhi, Jaipur, Rajkot or Ahmedabad, you can spot the
International Space Station
in the sky tonight (Tuesday night). Though not a rare phenomenon, the
is easy to spot like a bright star with naked eyes as it is the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon, and circles the Earth in roughly 93 minutes, completing 15.5 orbits every day.
Tonight, the ISS will be flying right over these Indian cities at an angle of nearly 90 degrees and give you the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of the human habitable satellite but only if you have a cloudless sky. ISS will be visible after 8.30 pm — can be sighted for approximately 5-6 minutes at around 8:35 pm in Rajkot and Ahmedabad, and around 8:37 pm in Delhi and Jaipur. Though the four cities will have the best sighting if clouds are not there, people in nearby cities like Vadodara, Agra and Chandigarh will also be able to sight the ISS but at an angle. The ISS is visible before or after sunrise or sunset. That is the reason that though the ISS can be sighted from these cities on other days of this week too, the view tonight will be the best view possible as it will pass over at nearly 90 degrees angle.
For people living in other cities who will miss this opportunity this time, don't get disheartened. The ISS can be sighted from your city in the future. US space agency NASA runs a website — Spot The Station — dedicated to tracking the movements of the ISS and tells you the most suitable time to view it in the coming days. Just register yourself at this website and it will keep alerting you about its movement and when exactly it will pass over your city. In fact, you can track the real-time movement of the ISS on this website.
The ISS is the only habitable artificial satellite in the low-earth orbit and it's a multi-national collaborative project between five participating space agencies NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific experiments are conducted in astrobiology,
, meteorology, physics, and other fields. The station is suited for testing the spacecraft systems and equipment required for possible future long-duration missions to the Moon and
. It maintains an orbit with an average altitude of 400 km by means of reboost manoeuvres using the engines of the Zvezda service module or visiting spacecraft.
The station is divided into two sections: the Russian orbital segment, operated by Russia; and the United States orbital segment, which is shared by many countries. Roscosmos has endorsed the continued operation of the ISS through 2024. As of December 2018, the station is expected to operate until 2030.
As of today, the ISS (operational and permanently inhabited) is the only fully functional space station in the earth's orbit. Previous space stations, which either became defunct or fell on the earth, included Russia's Almaz, Salyut series and Mir, Nasa's Skylab and China's Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. However, China and Russia and a few private companies are planning to create other stations in near future.