Detroit shines in space station astronaut's photo

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

The Detroit roadways are lit up, radiating like spokes on a wagon wheel from a bright-white downtown.

U.S. astronaut Shane Kimbrough.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough tweeted a stunning picture Tuesday morning with Detroit as the star, alongside what appears to be Lansing, Flint, Toledo and Cleveland. Kimbrough is the commander of Expedition 50, aboard the International Space Station.

"Good morning USA!" Kimbrough said in his 9:22 a.m. tweet. "Detroit - Toledo - Cleveland."

Woodward, Grand River, Gratiot, Michigan Avenue, Eight Mile and the Southfield Freeway are all clearly visible in the Detroit shot, branching away from downtown. Patches of light break the darkness around the city, with bigger cities like Lansing and Flint putting on their own light shows.

Detroit's white lights make the city shine brighter — and greener — than the yellow-hued suburbs and Ohio cities. Last month, Mayor Mike Duggan flipped a switch to turn on the last of 65,000 new LED streetlights installed in the city as part of a two-year, $185 million project. Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. lit by these bright bulbs, which are twice as bright as traditional sodium lights.

Duggan retweeted the picture and responded Wednesday morning, inviting the astronaut-turned-photographer to see Detroit from the ground.

"Great shot! Our city is looking good from down here, too," Duggan said. "We'd love for you to visit and get a closer look."

Kimbrough had not yet responded by later Wednesday morning, but instead continued a tradition of tweeting his pictures of American cities from space. The spotlight Wednesday was directed toward the Gulf Coast, including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston.

The 49-year-old astronaut completed a nearly six-hour space walk Friday to perform maintenance on the station, according to officials. It was the second space walk of the week for Kimbrough, and the 197th walk for space station crew.

Kimbrough joined NASA in 2000 and became an astronaut in 2004, according to his online biography. He's been aboard the space station since Oct. 19 of last year.

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