Cupola (ISS) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Space Exploration Glossary

What is the Cupola on the ISS?

The Cupola is a small module on the International Space Station (ISS) that serves as a window to the world for astronauts living and working in space. It is a dome-shaped structure with seven windows that provide a panoramic view of Earth and space. The Cupola is located on the nadir side of the ISS, which is the side facing Earth.

How was the Cupola added to the ISS?

The Cupola was added to the ISS in 2010 during the STS-130 mission of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The Cupola was delivered to the ISS in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle and was attached to the Tranquility module using the station’s robotic arm. The installation of the Cupola required several spacewalks by astronauts to connect power and data cables and to install thermal insulation.

What is the purpose of the Cupola on the ISS?

The primary purpose of the Cupola on the ISS is to provide astronauts with a panoramic view of Earth and space. The windows of the Cupola allow astronauts to observe and photograph Earth’s landscapes, weather patterns, and city lights from a unique vantage point. The Cupola also serves as a control room for robotic operations on the ISS, as it provides a clear view of the station’s exterior for monitoring spacewalks and docking maneuvers.

How is the Cupola used by astronauts on the ISS?

Astronauts on the ISS use the Cupola for a variety of purposes, including Earth observation, photography, and scientific research. The windows of the Cupola can be opened and closed remotely from inside the station, allowing astronauts to take clear photos and videos of Earth without the distortion caused by the station’s windows. The Cupola also serves as a quiet and peaceful retreat for astronauts to relax and reflect on their experiences in space.

What are some notable events that have taken place in the Cupola?

The Cupola has been the site of several memorable events during the history of the ISS. In 2013, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” music video in the Cupola, which went viral on social media. In 2015, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko spent a record-breaking 340 days aboard the ISS, with Kelly frequently sharing stunning photos of Earth taken from the Cupola.

How does the Cupola contribute to space exploration?

The Cupola plays a crucial role in space exploration by providing astronauts with a unique perspective on Earth and space. The observations and data collected from the Cupola are used by scientists to study Earth’s climate, weather patterns, and natural disasters. The Cupola also serves as a training ground for future missions to the Moon and Mars, as astronauts can practice navigation and communication skills in a simulated space environment. Overall, the Cupola enhances the human experience of living and working in space and inspires people around the world to dream of exploring the cosmos.