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German astronaut tweets shocking photographs of Europe during heatwave

ALEXANDER GERST;ASTRONAUT

NASA Johnson-CC BY-NC 2.0

J-P Mauro - published on 08/08/18 - updated on 08/08/18

The images show parched, brown Earth as far as the eye can see.

Alexander Gerst has been enjoying the view from the International Space Station (ISS) since June, but earlier this week as he orbited over his homeland, he was shocked by what he saw. Courtesy of the record breaking heatwave in Europe, nearly the entire country of Germany is parched and brown.

He shared the photos on Twitter:

The image on the left shows the area surrounding the town of Cologne on the Rhine River in North Rhine Westphalia, where the European Space Agency (ESA) makes its base. Even the land around the river, which is normally lush, has turned brown. On the right is a wider view of Centeral Europe, which looks like a scene from late autumn.

A couple days later, Gerst posted images of Germany taken from the ISS in 2014, to give a sense of what the area normally looks like.

This summer’s European heatwave has given way to interesting stories, from finding the childhood home of Saint Plunkett in Ireland to thousands of fish dying due to increased temperatures of the Rhine. Gerst also shared images of a wildfire kicking up dust for miles in Portugal.

Thankfully, some rain has passed over France and Germany since Gerst took those pictures, which mercifully lowered the temperature a bit.

Alexander Gerst is a geophysicist and volcanologist who went up to the ISS in June alongside NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Roscosmos commander Sergei Prokopyev in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. DW.com mentions that he is in space working on 50 European experiments including some that may shed light on how muscles and the brain react to living away from Earth.

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