The final picture show: Tim Peake's amazing images from space

The Northern Lights from space. Photo / Tim Peake
The Northern Lights from space. Photo / Tim Peake

In the early hours of Saturday morning (UK time), British astronaut Tim Peake will climb into a cramped Soyuz space capsule to begin his journey back to Earth, bidding farewell to possibly the best room with a view ever created.

During his six months months aboard the International Space Station, Peake has circled the globe more than 2800 times, taking thousands of photographs to document his mission and his unrivaled view of the most awe-inspiring light show on the planet.

His stunning pictures have revealed how the aurora - the Northern and Southern Lights - regularly illuminate the sky far above our heads as charged particles from the sun smash into the Earth's atmosphere.

British astronaut Tim Peake, a member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). Photo / Tim Peake
British astronaut Tim Peake, a member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). Photo / Tim Peake

There are two types of auroras - Aurora Borealis, which means 'dawn of the north', and Aurora Australis, 'dawn of the south.'

The lights are created when charged particles from the sun enter Earth's atmosphere.
Usually the particles are deflected by the Earth's magnetic field, but some enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles.

These collisions emit light, in many colours although pale green and pink are common.
Major Peake has excelled at capturing the eerie glow produced by this natural phenomenon during this six month mission on board the space station after getting some tutelage from Nasa astronaut Scott Kelly, who had spent a year on board the space station before returning earlier this year.

The Earth lit up. Photo / Tim Peake
The Earth lit up. Photo / Tim Peake

On Saturday he will join fellow astronaut Colonel Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko as they board the Soyuz space capsule to fly back to Earth.

They are due to shut the door to the capsule at 3.15am BST before undocking from the space station at 6.30am BST.

Aurora over Norway. Photo / Tim Peake
Aurora over Norway. Photo / Tim Peake
Follow Lake Powell to Lake Mead through the Grand Canyon. Photo / Tim Peake
Follow Lake Powell to Lake Mead through the Grand Canyon. Photo / Tim Peake

They will then hurtle at speeds of up to 17,000 mph into the Earth's atmosphere. The friction of the atmosphere will see the tiny descent module endure temperatures of up to 1650C, although Major Peake and his colleagues will be protected by a heat shield.

The three crew members will experience forces of up to three to four times the Earth's gravity during their three hour descent before landing at around 10.15am BST in Kazakhstan.

- Daily Mail

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