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As Big as a Football Field, 16 Orbits of Earth in 24 Hours: All About the ISS

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The International Space Station (ISS), a remarkable feat of human engineering and international collaboration, has been orbiting Earth for 25 years. Here are ten fascinating facts about this cosmic outpost:

Size and Weight: The ISS, akin to a mini-city in space, weighs a staggering 419 tonnes and spans the length of a football field, measuring 109 meters end to end.

Scientific Hub: It serves primarily as a research laboratory where scientists from around the world conduct experiments in microgravity conditions, invaluable for advancements in biology, physics, astronomy, and materials science.

Costly Endeavor: Constructing and maintaining the ISS has been a monumental financial effort, surpassing $150 billion since its inception.

Operational Dynamics: Circling the Earth at an astounding speed of 28,165 kilometers per hour, the ISS completes 16 orbits daily, providing astronauts aboard with 16 sunrises and sunsets within 24 hours.

International Collaboration: A partnership involving five space agencies from 15 countries manages the ISS, although India remains outside this consortium.

Human Presence: Since November 2000, the ISS has continuously housed astronauts, offering a living and working environment larger than a typical six-bedroom house. It includes amenities like two bathrooms, a gymnasium, and a panoramic bay window for a breathtaking 360-degree view of Earth.

Sustainable Living: To ensure self-sufficiency, the ISS employs advanced recycling systems that purify sweat and urine into potable water, a crucial innovation for prolonged space missions.

Microbial Evolution: Despite its sterile appearance, the closed environment of the ISS fosters the development of resilient microorganisms dubbed ‘super bugs,’ posing unique challenges for crew health and station maintenance.

Visible Wonder: As it orbits overhead, the ISS is visible to the naked eye from Earth. Enthusiasts can track its path through the night sky using resources provided by NASA.

Future Prospects: While no Indian has yet visited the ISS, plans are underway for an Indian astronaut to embark on a mission there soon. India also aims to establish its own space station, the Bhartiya Antariksha Station, by 2040, reflecting a growing ambition in space exploration.