When astronauts return to Earth after their stay at the International Space Station, the capsule in which they make the trip back falls down to the atmosphere at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour. The friction produces on the hull of the capsule an extreme heating, reaching temperatures to 1600 degrees.
Astronauts can keep track of this breathtaking spectacle from the windows of the capsule, and now NASA has released an animated gif of this moment, taken by an astronaut.
In the gif it can be seen the rain of sparks that emerges from the Soyuz hull, which is equipped with a heat shield to protect the astronauts that are traveling inside while the capsule descends.
Shortly after the parachutes are deployed and the landing engines are activated, slowing the fall to a safe speed of 4 miles per hour at the time when the ship lands on the steppes of Kazakhstan.
So far the Russian Soyuz capsules have proven to be the safest method to return to Earth, after the Columbia accident when reentering our planet raised doubts about its viability and in long-term gave an end to the era of US space shuttles after having been working for three decades.