NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly Describes North Korea from Space

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The 20-Year NASA Veteran Shares His Unique Perspective on North Korea from Space.

We write a lot here about the promise that space exploration brings to humanity. That promise lies in understanding who we are as a species, where we came from, and what to do next. One of the promises we don’t often talk about, however, is the understanding that it brings to the brave women and men who explore for us. It’s pretty safe to say that if someone spends a year orbiting the Earth in space, they’ll have a different perspective than the rest of us. Astronaut Scott Kelly certainly has that different perspective. Especially when it comes to geopolitical issues and seeing North Korea from space.

In 2015, Kelly had an interview with Google Zeitgeist, in which he called North Korea an “ocean of darkness” compared with the light from other countries. 

Kelly spent a total of 520 days in space. During that time, he saw North Korea hundreds of times. After all, the ISS completes an orbit around every 92 minutes, or so.

He witnessed scenes like the one he tweeted below repeatedly.

You can clearly see the “ocean of dark” Kelly referred to. The one small bright spot between the South Korean and Chinese borders is Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. Astronauts who’ve served upon the ISS before have spoken about borders. The general consensus seems to be that throughout most of the world, you don’t see the borders we humans put up when you look from low earth orbit. That’s obviously not the case for North Korea, though. If you’ll forgive me for making light of a geopolitically complex situation, they’re not like the other kids.

You see, even in Southwestern Asia (the Middle East), where wars are raging and people suffer every day, that suffering isn’t visible from space the way it is in North Korea. There is a clear delineation at night between North Korea, South Korea, and China, whereas even in other “underdeveloped” parts of the globe, the contrast between light and dark is not so strong.

Check out this video to see for yourself:

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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