Little bright dot in the sky

On Friday evening we looked up into the sky and saw a bright twinkly dot rising in the south – the International Space Station was overhead.

How did we know to look out for this? Because there’s a service on Twitter called Twisst. This calculates your location based on your Twitter profile and sends you a Tweet telling you when to look up.

And we did. And there it was – extra-bright, at the moment, apparently.

So, what’s going on at the International Space Station right now? Well, the thing is most of the way through its construction, according to its Wikipedia article, which says: “As of December 2009, the station consisted of eleven pressurised modules and the complete Integrated Truss Structure.

“Still to be launched is the third and final American node, Tranquillity, a Permanent Logistics Module, the European Robotic Arm, two Russian modules and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS). Assembly is expected to be completed by 2011, by which point the station will have a mass in excess of 400 metric tons.”

During and after construction, the ISS functions as a long-term research laboratory funded by a consortium of nations from around the world. It allows long-term studies and experiments to be carried out and is permanently staffed.

Areas benefiting from the ISS include astronomy, physics, biology and meteorology. Astronauts are currently engaged in Expedition 22, busy setting up modules and experiments and preparing for a spacewalk.

Want to catch it yourself? Just sign up to Twisst or check out NASA’s ISS pages here.