Artificial Archipelagos, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
acquired January 13, 2010 download large image (707 KB, JPEG, 1445x960)

The municipality of Dubai is the largest city of the Persian Gulf emirate of the same name, and has built a global reputation for large-scale developments and architectural works. Among the most visible of these developments—particularly from the perspective of astronauts on board the International Space Station—are three human-made archipelagos. The two Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali) appear as stylized palm trees when viewed from above. The World Islands evoke a rough map of the world from an air- or space-borne perspective. Palm Jumeirah and the World Islands are highlighted in this astronaut photograph.

Palm Jumeirah (image lower left) was begun in 2001 and required more than 50 million cubic meters of dredged sand to raise the islands above the Persian Gulf sea level. Construction of the Palm Jumeirah islands was completed in 2006; the islands are now being developed for residential and commercial housing and infrastructure. Creation of the 300 World Islands (image upper right) was begun in 2003 and completed in 2008, using 320 million cubic meters of sand and 37 million tonnes of rock for the surrounding 27-kilometer-long protective breakwater. Little to no infrastructure development of The World is apparent in this astronaut photograph.

Also visible at the lower edge of the astronaut photograph is another notable structure—the Burj Khalifa (image lower right and rotated 90 degrees in inset). Burj Khalifa stands 800 meters (2,600 feet) high, and it is currently the world’s tallest structure. The astronaut photograph captures enough detail to make out the tapering outline of the building as well as its dark, needle-like shadow pointing towards the northeast.

An earlier astronaut photograph shows an early phase of construction of Palm Jumeirah. The Earth Observatory’s World of Change feature also tracks urbanization in Dubai.

Astronaut photograph ISS022-E-24940 was acquired on c with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera fitted with a 400 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 22 crew. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.

Instrument(s): 
ISS - Digital Camera

Artificial Archipelagos, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

February 1, 2010
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