Astronaut Photography

Apollo 11 Landing Site
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Apollo 11 Landing Site

Forty years after the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of the descent stage of the Eagle lunar module.

Published Jul 20, 2009

Image of the Day Human Presence

Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands
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Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands

A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station in 2009 offered the astronauts a striking view of the volcano in an early stage of eruption.

Published Jun 22, 2009

Image of the Day Atmosphere Land Volcanoes

Earth Viewed by Apollo 8
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Earth Viewed by Apollo 8

This stunning photo came back to Earth with the Apollo 8 astronauts in late December 1968.

Published Nov 27, 2008

Image of the Day Atmosphere Land Water

Coronado Island and the Gulf of California, Mexico
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Coronado Island and the Gulf of California, Mexico

Located in the Bahia de los Angeles, Isla Coronado sits in the Gulf of California, just off the eastern shoreline of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. The island is approximately 7 kilometers long, and it is dominated by Volcan Coronado on the northern end.

Published Oct 20, 2008

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Sandy Cape, Fraser Island, Australia
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Sandy Cape, Fraser Island, Australia

Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, is located along the coastline of Queensland, Australia, and it includes Great Sandy National Park. The island was designated a World Heritage site in 1992, in part due to its outstanding preservation of geological processes related to sand dune formation.

Published Oct 13, 2008

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Bouvet Island, South Atlantic Ocean
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Bouvet Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Bouvet Island is known as the most remote island in the world; Antarctica, over 1600 kilometers (994 miles) to the south, is the nearest land mass. Located near the junction between the South American, African, and Antarctic tectonic plates, the island is mostly formed from a shield volcano—a broad, gently sloping cone formed by thin, fluid lavas—that is almost entirely covered by glaciers.

Published Oct 6, 2008

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Tunis, Tunisia
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Tunis, Tunisia

The urban area of Tunis is located on a flat coastal plain, and is distinguished in this astronaut photograph from the surrounding desert by the pattern of grey and tan buildings and the dark street grid. The city is bordered by an evaporating saline lake to the northeast known as Sebkhet Arina (upper left).

Published Sep 22, 2008

Image of the Day Land Human Presence

Island of Ischia, Italy
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Island of Ischia, Italy

he island of Ischia is approximately 30 kilometers southwest of Naples, Italy, in the western Bay of Naples (part of the Tyrrenhian Sea). While the island’s rocks are volcanic in origin, much of the island’s geology and current topography is characterized by blocks of uplifted rock and sunken areas between weak spots or cracks in Earth’s crust.

Published Sep 15, 2008

Image of the Day Land Water

Sunglint on the Amazon River, Brazil
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Sunglint on the Amazon River, Brazil

The setting sun glints off the Amazon River and numerous lakes in its floodplain in this astronaut photograph from August 19, 2008. Large areas of sunglint are common in oblique views. Sunglint images reveal great detail in surface water—in this case the marked difference between the smooth outline of the Amazon and the jagged shoreline of the Uatumã River.

Published Sep 8, 2008

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Aeolian Islands
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Aeolian Islands

The Aeolian Islands formed from a chain of volcanoes in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of the island of Sicily. Geologists and volcanologists have studied the islands since the eighteenth century, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared them a World Heritage Site in 2000 because of their value to the study of volcanic processes.

Published Sep 1, 2008

Image of the Day Land Water

Cape Farewell, Greenland
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Cape Farewell, Greenland

The image is highly oblique—taken from an angle looking outwards from the ISS, rather than straight down towards the Earth—and this perspective provides a sense of topography along the southern edge of Greenland. The exposed dark grey bedrock along the southwestern coastline has been carved by glaciers into numerous fjords, steep-sided valleys that drain directly into the ocean.

Published Aug 25, 2008

Image of the Day Land Snow and Ice

Dry Tortugas, Florida
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Dry Tortugas, Florida

The Dry Tortugas are a group of islands located approximately 75 miles west of Key West, Florida; they form the western end of the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico. This astronaut photograph highlights three islands in the group: Bush Key, Hospital Key, and Garden Key, which is the site of Fort Jefferson, a Civil War-era fort.

Published Aug 18, 2008

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Pyramids of Dashur, Egypt
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Pyramids of Dashur, Egypt

While the pyramids of Giza are perhaps the most famous, there are several other ancient Egyptian royal necropolis (“city of the dead”) sites situated along the Nile River and its delta. One of these sites is near the village of Dashur, illustrated in this astronaut photograph.

Published Aug 11, 2008

Image of the Day Land Life

Polar Mesospheric Clouds Over Central Asia
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Polar Mesospheric Clouds Over Central Asia

Polar mesospheric clouds (also known as noctilucent, or “night-shining” clouds) are transient, upper atmospheric phenomena that are usually observed in the summer months at high latitudes (greater than 50 degrees) of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They appear bright and cloudlike while in deep twilight. They are illuminated by sunlight when the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the darkness of Earth’s shadow.

Published Aug 4, 2008

Image of the Day Atmosphere

Sentinel Volcanic Field, Arizona
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Sentinel Volcanic Field, Arizona

This detailed astronaut photograph depicts a portion of the Gila River channel in south-central Arizona. The northernmost boundary of the Sentinel Volcanic Field is visible in the image, recognizable by the irregular flow fronts of thin basalt lava flows. Active agricultural fields along the Gila River are a rich green set against the surrounding desert.

Published Jul 28, 2008

Image of the Day Land Life

Cordillera Huayhuash, Peruvian Andes
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Cordillera Huayhuash, Peruvian Andes

This astronaut photograph was taken looking east as the International Space Station was flying about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) off the Peruvian coast and shows Cordillera Huayhuash (pronounced “Why-wash”).

Published Jul 21, 2008

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Piute Fire, Sequoia National Forest
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Piute Fire, Sequoia National Forest

The Piute Fire, burning south of Lake Isabella in the Sequoia National Forest in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, was one of the more than 300 wildfires burning across the state of California in early July 2008.

Published Jul 14, 2008

Image of the Day Atmosphere Land Fires

Fires in California
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Fires in California

One of the largest and most destructive fires raging across California over the weekend of July 4 was the Basin Fire, threatening Big Sur, and covering the coast in a thick blanket of smoke.

Published Jul 10, 2008

Land Fires

Toshka Lakes, Egypt
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Toshka Lakes, Egypt

In the late 1990s, Egypt’s new manmade Toshka Lakes, fed from Lake Nasser via a canal, grew and spilled into new basins to become four major and two smaller lakes. Starting in 2002, astronauts have seen the lakes slowly decline, with the telltale ring of darker, moistened ground showing the previous higher water levels.

Published Jul 7, 2008

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Santorini Volcano, Greece
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Santorini Volcano, Greece

One of the largest volcanic eruptions in the past 10,000 years occurred in approximately 1620 BC on the volcanic island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea. This astronaut photograph illustrates the center of Santorini Volcano, located approximately 118 kilometers to the north of Crete.

Published Jun 30, 2008

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Vermilion Cliffs and Paria River, Arizona
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Vermilion Cliffs and Paria River, Arizona

he largest tributary of the Colorado River between Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon, the Paria River flows southeast from its headwaters in southernmost Utah to join the Colorado River between Page, Arizona, and Marble Canyon. The Paria River provides spectacular scenery, and is known for the very narrow “slot” canyons that it cuts through the layered rocks of the Colorado Plateau.

Published Jun 23, 2008

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Isla de la Palma, Canary Islands
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Isla de la Palma, Canary Islands

The Canary Islands, a group of volcanic islands, lie just off the west coast of Morocco in the Atlantic Ocean; at the northwest end of the chain is Isla de la Palma. This astronaut photograph highlights volcanic landforms on the southern portion of Isla de la Palma.

Published Jun 16, 2008

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NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
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NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

This astronaut photograph illustrates the diverse built environment surrounding the NASA Ames Research Center located at the southernmost end of San Francisco Bay. Founded in 1939 as an aircraft research laboratory, Ames became a NASA facility in 1958. Its original aircraft research focus was enhanced by the adjacent Moffett Field—an active Naval Air Station until 1994, and the original home of the Navy dirigible U.S.S. Macon. The large hanger for docking the U.S.S. Macon is still present at Moffett Field, and is visible in this astronaut photograph (image center). Today, NASA Ames includes the former Naval Air Station, and it continues its focus on aeronautics in addition to nanotechnology, information technology, fundamental space biology, biotechnology, thermal protection systems, and human factors research.

Published Jun 9, 2008

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Volcanic Plumes and Vog,  Hawaii
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Volcanic Plumes and Vog, Hawaii

An oblique view (the astronaut was looking towards the southwest, rather than straight down) of the Hawaiian Islands taken from the International Space Station on a hazy spring day includes a regional view of three volcanic plumes from Kilauea that contributed to the vog: the plume from Halema’uma’u crater, from the Pu’u O’o vent along the east rift, and a plume from where lava enters the ocean on the coast.

Published Jun 2, 2008

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Zion Canyon, Utah
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Zion Canyon, Utah

Located in southwestern Utah along the western margin of the Colorado Plateau, the park was established in 1919 after roadway improvements allowed access to the Mukuntuweap National Monument.

Published May 26, 2008

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Moselle River Gorge, Germany
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Moselle River Gorge, Germany

The Moselle (Mosel in German) is the best known of the 13 German wine-growing regions. This detailed image (width covers a distance of 14.5 kilometers, or about 9 miles) shows the winding Moselle River flowing north (left to right).

Published May 19, 2008

Image of the Day Land Life Human Presence

Lake Pontchartrain and the Bonnet Carre Spillway, Louisiana
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Lake Pontchartrain and the Bonnet Carre Spillway, Louisiana

Lake Pontchartrain, immediately north of New Orleans, occupies the upper part of this astronaut photograph from April 29, 2008, with the winding course of the muddy Mississippi River snaking across the bottom of the view (flow is eastward, from left to right). The city of New Orleans is sandwiched between the lake and the river.

Published May 12, 2008

Image of the Day Water

Burren Plateau, County Clare, Ireland
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Burren Plateau, County Clare, Ireland

Adjoining Galway Bay to the north, the Burren Plateau (Burren is Gaelic for “stony place”) is an example of karst terrain. Karst terrain is generally formed when sedimentary rocks are dissolved by groundwater. This astronaut photograph illustrates the northwestern-most portion of the Burren Plateau, which is characterized by the distinctive bare exposures of almost horizontal, layered Paleozoic-age limestone rocks that form Gleninagh Mountain.

Published May 5, 2008

Image of the Day Land Water

Los Angeles at Night
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Los Angeles at Night

In this image, an astronaut photograph of the Los Angeles area is overlaid on a topographic image made from the United States Geological Survey National Elevation Dataset (1 arcsecond resolution). The grid of streets is outlined by orange (sodium vapor) and blue-green (mercury vapor) lights. The airport, the naval docks, and downtown LA are especially bright.

Published May 1, 2008

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Cerro Culiacan, Mexico
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Cerro Culiacan, Mexico

This astronaut photograph highlights Cerro (Spanish for “hill”) Culiacan, part of the 50,000 km2 Michoacán-Guanajuato volcanic field of west-central Mexico. The volcanic field contains over 1,400 known vents, with cinder cones, steep, cone-shaped hills, being the dominant landform. Cerro Culiacan however, is a shield volcano, a more gently sloping mound formed by basaltic lavas.

Published Apr 28, 2008

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