You can see the Golden Gate Bridge from low-earth orbit

February 17, 2010

President Barack Obama and a group of brainiac young students played stump-the-astronaut with the current occupants of the orbiting space station.

OBAMA/This was an event beamed live between the White House Roosevelt Room (the bookcase has been converted into a whizbang video screen) and the space station.

Obama, phone cradled on his shoulder, talked to the group of astronauts sitting erect and being careful not to float away in their gravity-free environment.

The 12 middle school students from Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Nebraska had lots of questions once Obama turned the microphone over to them, such as the age-old query:  what can you really see on Earth from space?

“Yes, we can see a lot of great landmarks. We can see the Golden Gate Bridge (in San Francisco), the great skyscrapers in New York and the Grand Canyon is just breathtaking,” said one astronaut.

Another question: Can you create artificial gravity in space? Answer: Yes, but it would take a really large structure that is rotating, like the way water sticks to the side of a barrel when you swing it around.

The NASA brass was at the event. Remember Obama, in his proposed 2011 budget, cuts the Constellation project intended to send astronauts back to the moon. The president noted at the event that “my commitment to NASA is unwavering.”

Photo Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Obama talks to astronauts), Reuters/NASA handout (Astronaut Nicholas Patrick holds onto International Space Station’s new cupola)


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I believe that Mr.Noguchi misunderstood the question. The intent of the question was what can you see with the unaided human eye. Mr.Noguchi told us what he could see with a telescopic lens(800mm). The ISS orbits at between 100 and 200 miles above the Earth. Humans do not have the visual resolution to identify such items as the Golden Gait Bridge nor sky scrapers. One can test this by going to Google earth and looking at the bridge from 100 miles above the surface of the Earth. One could also simply do the math. Mr. Noguchi should correct this misunderstanding, many children are now confused. Making a mistake is Ok not correcting it is a problem.

Posted by gbb | Report as abusive

Thanks to our gov/nasa/and Obama for all the hard work.Ibet its beautiful up there.I think Obama should get to go to Space.

Posted by norcaltorey | Report as abusive