The southern tip of Spain and the northern tip of Africa come close to touching at the Strait of Gibraltar. At the Strait’s narrowest point, only about 13 kilometers (8 miles) separate Spain from Morocco. The small Spanish enclave Ceuta occupies a narrow isthmus of land on the African side of the Strait of Gibraltar; the rest of the surrounding territory is Morocco. The isthmus and the city of Ceuta have been used as a military base since the Roman Empire occupied the area around AD 42; the city today supports a fort garrisoned by the Spanish army.
This astronaut photograph illustrates the sharp contrasts in land surfaces in the area. Densely populated Ceuta occupies the center of the image, its maze of pink and white residential and industrial rooftops occasionally broken by patches of green—city parks and athletic fields. North of the city, seawalls enclose a small bay and harbor. On the beach, bright blue patches are large water parks. Green, vegetated slopes surround the Spanish fort that sits at the top of Monte Hacho, at the eastern tip of the isthmus. (The fort commands a clear view of the Strait of Gibraltar, which is visible in a regional view of the area. Several small boats are visible near the coastline to the northwest and south of Ceuta.
The featured astronaut photograph ISS015-E-18808 was acquired July 21, 2007, by the Expedition 15 crew with a Kodak 760C digital camera using an 800 mm lens. The image is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. 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.
- ISS - Digital Camera