Terry Virts knows how to spend his last day in space: gazing at planet Earth from afar and posting photos of that jaw-dropping view online for all to see.
Terry Virts snapped the exquisitely sharp view of the Egyptian pyramids at Giza on June 10 looking out from the stations windows, just hours before entering the Soyuz return spaceship and closing the hatches behind him for his planned plummet back to Earth.
He proudly posted the spectacular photo on his twitter social media account from space while serving as station commander of Expedition 43.
It took me until my last day in space to get a good picture of these! pic.twitter.com/BChtFZBvk7
— Terry W. Virts (@AstroTerry) June 10, 2015
The three pyramids of Giza dominate the fantastically beautiful photo. They are located about 9 km (5 mi) from the town of Giza on the Nile, and some 25 km (15 mi) southwest of the Egyptian capital city of Cairo.
Terry Virts and his international crewmates from Russia and Italy just returned home safely to a sun drenched and toasty touchdown on the remotes steppes of Kazakhstan on June 11, after departing from the massive orbiting complex aboard their Russian Soyuz TMA-15M ferry craft.
Apparently the Pyramid photo proved to be quite elusive – as it took Virts the entire length of his six months duration flight to finally take the stunning close up photo he longed for and achieved, with no time left to spare.
The last picture I took on this mission. pic.twitter.com/8KqTd8yMOR
— Terry W. Virts (@AstroTerry) June 11, 2015
“It took me until my last day in space to get a good picture of these!” tweeted Virts from the ISS on June 11.
The multinational Expedition 43 trio comprised Commander Terry Virts of NASA, Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency).
They undocked from the orbiting outposts Russian Rassvet module as scheduled in the Soyuz TMA-15M spaceship at 6:20 a.m. EDT, June 11, while soaring some 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Mongolia.
Earlier in the mission, Cristoforetti captured a wider angle view of the Great Pyramids of Giza, shown for comparison below. Modern civilization juts up very near to the ancient pyramids.
The largest pyramid, known as the Great Pyramid or Pyramid of Khorfu was built over around 10 to 20 years and completed around 2560 BC. It measured about 146.5 meters (481) feet in height when it was originally built. At the base it has a width of 230.4 meters (765 feet).
Altogether, the Expedition 43 crew served nearly 200 days on board the ISS.
During his just concluded stay aboard the ISS during Expedition 43, Virts did three spacewalks totaling 19 hours and 2 minutes. Including the nearly 200 day mission, he raised has total cumulative time in space to 212 days.
Terry Virts was a prolific photographer during his duty time in orbit. A few more of his shots are gathered included herein, including one of many nighttime photos, a shot of the Soyuz return vehicle and his very last shot, a magnificent view out the stations windows.
— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) April 1, 2015