Orbital View: Scott Kelly's Parting Shot?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

When home is the International Space Station, human activities can feel pretty extraterrestrial. You sleep in a bag attached to a wall to keep from floating away. Your meals come from freeze-dried packets, your water from recycled urine and sweat. You can’t shower. It’s all very strange.

But you can still Instagram.

In the 340 days he spent in space—a record for an American astronaut—Scott Kelly took a lot of photos, inviting earthlings to survey their planet from above. He returns to Earth tomorrow, bidding farewell to sunrises like this one:

Scores of fans are wishing him well, including this one:

Thank you for all the amazing pictures over the last year. Sad it’s coming to an end but hopeful your journey will open the door for us go further and see more than ever before. Have a safe trip home tomorrow.

Another one:

I can’t believe this will be your last night. I will certainly miss you very much and all your very informative posts. I feel somewhat sad that you are leaving the ISS and somewhat happy [that] you will be reunited with your family members again. Please keeping posting every day when on Earth! Station Commander Scott Kelly Rocks!!!

(See all Orbital Views here)