If you're outdoors today, take a few seconds to aim a double thumbs up at the sky to congratulate the International Space Station (ISS) for passing a major milestone. According to Mashable and the above video, posted to the NASA Johnson YouTube channel, the ISS made its 100,000th orbit around the Earth today, nearly 18 years after its launch.
To put the feat into context, 100,000 orbits is the equivalent of more than 2.6 million miles, 10 trips to Mars and back, or almost the distance from Earth to Neptune, the video explains. The ISS's orbit path is 220 miles above Earth, and it takes approximately 90 minutes for it to make a full lap around the planet. If you do the math, that's roughly 16 passes each day and more than 5860 passes each year. While that milestone is impressive on its own, NASA also reports that during those 100,000 orbits, more than 1900 researchers investigations have been performed, and the results of ISS scientific studies have appeared in 1200 publications and counting.
Shortly after passing the milestone, the ISS deployed cubesats into space, including the first-ever research satellite built by grade-schoolers, which will transmit photos taken with a slow-scan TV camera every 30 seconds for approximately nine months.
A special congratulations to the 222 astronauts that have lived on or visited the ISS during the past 17 years. It's hard to know when the next milestone will be, but we're keeping our eyes open for the 123,456th orbit.
Image via NASA / Wikimedia Commons.