NASA spacewalker Mike Hopkins steadies a replacement coolant pump module at the end of the International Space Station's robotic arm on Tuesday.
Not even Santa Claus and his reindeer could match the view that NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins had on Christmas Eve as he took a ride on the International Space Station's robotic arm, 260 miles above South America.
Tuesday's "sleigh ride" was part of a spacewalk to install a new refrigerator-sized pump module for the space station's cooling system. In this shot, Hopkins is bringing the pump module from its storage space to its new location. It may be a bit hard to make out — but yes, that’s really him at the end of the robotic arm, with his back to the camera and the boxy apparatus in his arms.
Space station operations had to be curtailed two weeks ago when one of the system's two cooling loops failed. Thanks to the efforts of Hopkins, fellow spacewalker Rick Mastracchio and the rest of NASA's team, things should be back to normal in orbit within days.
This commanding video capture from NASA TV serves as the penultimate entry in the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which has been offering daily views of Earth from space during the month of December. The final calendar entry comes on Christmas morning.
Previously on the Space Advent Calendar:
- Day 23: 'Earthrise' updated, 45 years later
- Day 22: Alien-looking clouds swirl on Earth
- Day 21: A scientific slant on winter's start
- Day 20: Christmas tree? No, it's Iceland
- Day 19: Japan's baby island is here to stay
- Day 18: Red and green lights glow in space
- Day 17: A child's face, visible from space
- Day 16: Where the Middle East's snow shows
- Day 15: Snaky Colorado river tricks the eye
- Day 14: A space farewell to Nelson Mandela
- Day 13: Happy St. Lucy's Day from space
- Day 12: Island of Love needs healing
- Day 11: A fractal puzzle, seen from space
- Day 10: London and Paris light the night
- Day 9: 'Starry Night' at sea
- Day 8: Mount Etna makes its mark
- Day 7: Staring down into Mount Vesuvius
- Day 6: Grand Canyon, seen and unseen
- Day 5: NASA salutes Nelson Mandela
- Day 4: Twin volcanoes act up in the Pacific
- Day 3: Syria's medieval marvel marred
- Day 2: Where the rain in Spain goes
- Day 1: Farewell, Earth ... Hello, Mars!
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ circles. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.