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Take a Street View tour of the International Space Station

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Thursday, July 20, 2017, 5:16 PM - If you've ever wanted to visit the International Space Station, now's your chance to do so, right from the safety of your own home. Plus, check out a Hubble Space Telescope view of tiny moon Phobos, as it orbits around Mars.

A Street View tour of the ISS

Only a select few have ever been up on the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth once every 90 minutes, some 300 kilometres above the ground. Now, thanks to NASA, the European Space Agency and Google, anyone can take a guided tour of this human outpost in space.

Taking a cue from the ESA's 3D tour of the station, the Google Street View tour features various buttons positioned over key objects and points of interest in the view, which will reveal more information in the sidebar.

One thing the Google Street View offers, that earlier tours did not, is a look at the Russian part of the station - the modules named Zarya (sunrise) and Zvezda (star).

According to CBC News, the images Google stitched together to give us this tour were taken by ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, over a period of four months, by stringing up a camera in the middle of the station modules using bungee cords.

Tiny Phobos zips around Mars

Phobos, the larger and closer of Mars' two natural satellites, is a tiny speck, less than 1 per cent of the size of Earth's Moon, and it zips around its host planet in just 8 hours, rather than the 28 days the Moon takes to go around Earth.

Although small and fast, it didn't escape the notice of the Hubble Space Telescope, though, as seen in the video below:

The annotated composite image, below, combines several views of Phobos and Mars, taken by the HST on May 12, 2016, when Mars was 80 million km from Earth (nearly the closest point to Earth it had reached in 11 years).

Credit: NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay (STScI)

Phobos is so close to Mars that the planet is actually pulling it closer, ever so slowly. Sometime in the far future, it will get close enough that the mutual gravitational pull of the planet and the moon will tear it apart, leaving Mars with a dusty ring in orbit.

Sources: CBC News | Google | Hubble Space Telescope

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