As formidable as post tropical storm Sandy was for the people of New York, New Jersey, and the areas to the north hit by winds and rain, it was enormous when seen from space.

U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams, commander of the International Space Station, had a special interest as she watched from about 400 kilometres above the Earth. Her parents live in Falmouth, Mass., giving her a unique perspective.


U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams and fellow crewmembers were able to make out the big swirl at the centre of Sandy as it neared land Monday. (NASA )

Seen from space, Sandy moved up the coast and spread swirling clouds almost as far west as Chicago and well into Canada, over Toronto and Montreal.

Williams told The Associated Press in an interview today that she and her fellow crewmembers were able to make out the big swirl at the centre of Sandy as it neared land Monday.

"It's pretty huge," Williams said. "I hope everybody down there is safe and sound."

Williams is scheduled to leave the ISS on Nov. 19.

Before then, the six space station residents — two Americans, three Russians and one Japanese — expect to get a special Halloween visitor: a Russian supply ship is scheduled to blast off from Kazakhstan Wednesday morning and, in an unusually short transit, arrive at the orbiting lab several hours later.

Most experienced

"Hopefully, they'll be bringing lots of treats," Williams told the AP.

She's challenged her crewmates to scrounge up costumes. Even her stuffed toy dog on board will dress up — as Dracula. The toy is a smaller version of her real Jack Russell terrier back home, Gorby.

On Thursday, Williams,47, will continue her streak as the world's most experienced spacewalking woman. She and a crewmate will venture out on a spacewalk to find and repair an ammonia coolant leak.

Williams holds the record for the longest time spent in space by a woman — 195 days, not counting her current mission which began with her blastoff from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 15 and arrival at the ISS on July 17.



With files from The Associated Press