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Happy Fourth of July from the International Space Station!

July 4th, 2018 at 9:41 AM
space station fourth of july

The International Space Station is, as its name implies, a common ground for astronauts from many different countries, but that doesn’t stop them from having a little bit of festive fun on the Fourth of July. There is currently a trio of American astronauts aboard the space station, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to do a little bit of red, white, and blue redecorating.

In honor of Independence Day, the Advanced Plant Habitat on the space station has been given a bit of a makeover, with an LED lighting array switched over from its usual hues to an American flag pattern. It looks pretty darn cool.

The Advanced Plant Habitat is designed to help astronauts monitor and observe the growth of plants in space. NASA describes the module thusly:

The habitat is equipped with a monitoring system, the Plant Habitat Avionics Real-Time Manager, or PHARMER, that provides real-time telemetry, remote commanding and photo downlink to the team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The system records data from its 180 sensors, including water usage, carbon dioxide levels, light levels, temperature, humidity and oxygen in the growth chamber, and temperature, humidity and oxygen levels in the plant root systems, and sends it back to Kennedy for analysis.

It’s all pretty complex, but a bright LED array on the top of the habitat can be tweaked however the scientists need, and for the Fourth of July it’s received the old stars-and-stripes treatment. Obviously it’s just a temporary change, as the bright red and blue lights probably aren’t a favorite of the plants being grown inside, but it’s a neat little tribute nonetheless.

The current ISS expedition, which is number 56, will last until October, when astronauts who arrived at the space station in March will travel back to solid ground. The others will remain onboard until December, and will await the next round of astronauts who will fill in for those that departed.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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