Astronaut's perspective of Banks Peninsula

VIEW FROM SPACE: Alexander Gerst tweeted this photograph of Banks Peninsula as seen from space.
VIEW FROM SPACE: Alexander Gerst tweeted this photograph of Banks Peninsula as seen from space.

An astronaut orbiting the earth has shared his ''magnificent'' view of Canterbury's Banks Peninsula with the world. 

German astronaut Alexander Gerst posted the image of Banks Peninsula on social networking site Twitter today. 

''Nice view of Banks Peninsula in #NewZealand [sic]. Magnificent scenery, used to hike there often,'' Gerst wrote. 

The photograph was taken from the International Space Station, where Gerst was living and working as a flight engineer for the next six months.

The 38-year-old arrived on the station last week after launching from Kazakhstan and was due to return to Earth in November. 

Gerst completed a master's degree in Earth sciences from Victoria University in Wellington in 2003, followed by a doctorate in natural sciences at the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Hamburg in Germany in 2010.

He was selected as an astronaut for the European Space Agency in 2009 and undertook about four-and-a-half years of training before embarking on his first trip into space last week. In a blog post written the day before the launch, Gerst said the space station was the ''most complex machine ever built by mankind''. 

''The best we can do, so to speak, is that we are prepared for the fact that everything that happens up there will be different,'' he wrote.

''The challenge is a compelling leap in the dark, as so often when embarking on adventure.''

During his time on the International Space Station, Gerst would be tasked with completing dozens of experiments in physical science, biology, human physiology, radiation research and technology demonstrations.

A brochure outlining his 166-day mission stated the experiments were designed to improve life on Earth and prepare for human spaceflight exploration. 

''Human spaceflight not only gives us a unique perspective about our planet, but also who we are. We are a species of explorers,'' Gerst said.

The mission had been dubbed 'Blue Dot' after the first image of Earth taken from the outer solar system by NASA's Voyager spacecraft in 1990. 

More than 530 people have been into space, including about 200 who have stayed on the International Space station.

The Press