A view of Waterloo Region, from the International Space Station
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Waterloo Region has received a wintry postcard from space.
The photos of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge were tweeted by Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, who took them from the International Space Station as it zoomed past, hundreds of kilometres above, on New Year’s Eve.
The easiest landmarks to distinguish are the rivers — the Speed, cutting down from below a bank of clouds obscuring the top right corner of the photo, and the Grand, snaking its way from top to bottom.
Others become easier to spot once you get your bearings — the dark line marking Highway 401, the distinctive outline of the runways at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. The urban cores stand out in grey against the snow-white rural landscape, dotted with jet-black stands of trees.
Kitchener Coun. Berry Vrbanovic — who deemed the images “très cool” in thanking Hadfield for sharing them via Twitter — said he’s been following the mission with interest.
“I think it’s excellent that he’s using social media as a way of connecting average Canadians with the mission he is on,” Vrbanovic said.
Hadfield, who began a five-month mission Dec. 19, has been sending lots of photos back to Earth during his first two weeks in space — including many of places he flies over at nearly 28,000 kilometres per hour.
The station circles the globe 16 times a day, and a cross-Canada trip takes about ten minutes.
In replying to a fan via Twitter, Hadfield said the cameras aboard the space station are Nikon D2s and D3s, with a variety of lenses. “We even take them outside into the vacuum with us,” he wrote.
A former CF-18 fighter pilot, Hadfield has flown twice aboard space shuttles and was the first Canadian to walk in space. In March, he’ll become the first Canadian to command a spaceship when he becomes commander of the International Space Station during the second part of his current trip.