Roscosmos cosmonaut corps cosmonauts undergo special training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to orientate on the Earth from the International Space Station using key ground objects, Alexander Gorbunov reports in the ‘Cosmonaut’s Life’ blog.
In order to successfully photograph objects on the surface of the planet, a cosmonaut must possess certain skills with fast orientation among them. Due to the high speed of flight of the ISS, the cosmonauts have about 40 seconds to find and photograph a given object.
‘First, on each continent, we memorize a large number of key landmarks — lakes, large rivers, mountain ranges and peaks, bays and straits, as well as islands and archipelagos — up to a hundred objects on each continent,’ Alexander Gorbunov writes. ‘At the same time, the special software of the simulator allows you to make a view of the objects from the height of the ISS and from different angles. To bring the learning process even closer to reality, the program can add a cloud cover making it difficult to find the objects and photograph them.
The simulator simulates the view of the Earth from the ISS through the porthole, and the enlarged rectangle simulates the view through the camera viewfinder. During the session, the cosmonauts need to find the objects specified in the radiogram along the ISS flightpath and ‘photograph’ them. At the same time, they comment on their actions aloud, keep the object in the viewfinder using the joystick and simultaneously name aloud all the landmarks they observe in the window.
In their blog, the cosmonauts offer to guess the place on the planet captured in the photograph.