Astronaut Photography

Rosario, Argentina
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Rosario, Argentina

The Paraná River, in the center of the view, has been the principal transportation artery of central South America since the times of early colonization. Consequently, the river gave rise to the growth of port cities such as Argentina’s second city, Rosario (bottom center), now a major industrial center (pop. > 1.1 million). Rosario is the center of a vibrant local agricultural economy—intensive agriculture is visible on the left margin of the view. As such, Rosario is one of the key cities in South America’s MERCOSUR common market (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay). Other cities have expanded along the river bank, especially northward (for example, Capitan Bermudez, top left).

Published Nov 7, 2005

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Lake Nasser, Egypt
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Lake Nasser, Egypt

One of the world’s largest artificial lakes, Lake Nasser is named after the Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, who is largely responsible for the lake’s creation. President Nasser decided to build the Aswan High Dam across the Nile, forming a lake approximately 550 kilometers (340 miles) long.

Published Nov 3, 2005

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Navajo Mountain, Utah
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Navajo Mountain, Utah

The Colorado Plateau of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah is made of mostly flat-lying layers of sedimentary rock that record paleoclimate extremes ranging from oceans to widespread deserts over the last 1.8 billion years. Navajo Mountain in southeastern Utah is a dome-shaped chunk of igneous rock that intruded into the sedimentary layers and lifted up the overlying layer. Navajo Mountain is one of several of these rock formations, called laccolith by geologists, in southeastern Utah’s portion of the Plateau. This oblique (from-the-side) astronaut photograph highlights Navajo Mountain in the center of the image, surrounded by light red-brown Navajo Sandstone (also visible in the canyon at bottom of the image). The igneous rock at the core of the mountain is wrapped in sedimentary layers. The peak of Navajo Mountain, at approximately 3,148 meters (10,388 feet) elevation, is comprised of uplifted Dakota Sandstone deposited during the Cretaceous Period (approximately 66-138 million years ago).

Published Oct 31, 2005

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Fall Colors in the Wasatch Range, Utah
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Fall Colors in the Wasatch Range, Utah

The Wasatch Range forms an impressive backdrop to the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, and it is a frequent destination for hikers, backpackers, and skiers. The range is considered to be the westernmost part of the Rocky Mountains, and rises to elevations of approximately 3,600 meters (12,000 feet) above sea level.

Published Oct 24, 2005

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Provincetown Spit, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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Provincetown Spit, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

This astronaut photograph, taken from the International Space Station, shows the northernmost parts of the Cape Cod National Seashore, also known as Provincetown Spit.

Published Oct 19, 2005

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South Georgia Island
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South Georgia Island

There is no permanent human base on South Georgia Island, a British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean that lies 1,300 kilometers east of the Falkland Islands. The crew of the International Space Station captured this image of the rugged and isolated landscape of the northern shore of the island. The first recorded explorer to land on the island was Captain James Cook aboard the HMS Resolution in 1775. He mapped part of the coastline, but was discouraged by the thick ice cover, lack of vegetation, and steep mountains. Mt. Paget, the highest peak, rises to 2,934 meters (9,625 feet) above sea level, and the island supports 161 glaciers. Cook named the southernmost point of the island “Cape Disappointment” when he realized he had not reached Antarctica.

Published Oct 17, 2005

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North Antelope Rochelle Coal Mine, Wyoming
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North Antelope Rochelle Coal Mine, Wyoming

The United States’ highest rate of coal production is in Wyoming, with almost 4 million short tons extracted in 2004. The majority of this coal is burned to generate electrical power within the United States, but a small percentage is also goes to Spain and Canada. The Powder River Basin in the northeastern portion of the state is the most productive of Wyoming’s coal fields. The extensive coal deposits—ranging in thickness from 21 to 53 meters (70 to 175 feet)—formed over 38-66 million years ago. The source of organic material for the coal originated in swamps, estuaries, and deltas associated with the regression (retreat) of a large inland seaway that occupied central North America during the Cretaceous Period, which spanned the years between about 144 to 65 million years ago.

Published Oct 10, 2005

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Dune Patterns, Namib Desert, Namibia
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Dune Patterns, Namib Desert, Namibia

This detailed view of the remote Conception Bay sector of the Namibian coastline shows breakers and a strand plain on the left and complex dunes of the Namib dune sea on the right. A strand plain is a series of dunes, usually associated with and parallel to a beach, sometimes containing small creeks or lakes. The complexity and regularity of dune patterns in the dune sea of the Namib Desert have attracted the attention of geologists for decades; however, they remain poorly understood. The flat strand plain (roughly 4 kilometers shown here) shows a series of wet zones that appear black where seawater seeps inland and evaporates. These patches are aligned with the persistent southerly winds, some of the strongest of any coastal desert.

Published Oct 3, 2005

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Mt. Rainier, Washington
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Mt. Rainier, Washington

A clear summer day over Washington state provided the International Space Station crew the chance to observe Mt. Rainier—a volcano that overlooks the Seattle metropolitan area and the 2.5 million people who live there. In addition to its presence on the Seattle skyline, Mt. Rainier also looms large among volcanoes in the United States.

Published Sep 26, 2005

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Hurricane Damage in Biloxi, Mississippi
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Hurricane Damage in Biloxi, Mississippi

The port town of Biloxi, Mississippi, experienced significant damage when Hurricane Katrina came ashore on August 29, 2005. This astronaut photograph illustrates damage and flooding in the Biloxi area caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Published Sep 19, 2005

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Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming
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Yellowstone Lake, Wyoming

This astronaut photograph is centered on Yellowstone Lake, a popular camping and fishing location within the National Park. The lake basin includes part of the youngest caldera and has an area of 352 square kilometers (136 square miles).

Published Sep 5, 2005

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Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
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Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

The modern Buzzards Bay is approximately 45 kilometers long by 12 kilometers wide and is a popular destination for fishing, boating, and tourism. The Cape Cod Canal allows for passage between Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod Bay to the northeast; the wakes of numerous pleasure craft appear along the length of the Canal.

Published Aug 29, 2005

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Forest Fire Smoke Surrounding Mt. McKinley
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Forest Fire Smoke Surrounding Mt. McKinley

This view of Mt McKinley (Denali)—the highest point in North America (6,194 meters; 20,230 feet)—looks as if it were taken from an aircraft. In fact, an astronaut onboard the International Space Station took advantage of cloud-free skies and a powerful 800-millimeter lens to photograph this peak while the spacecraft was over the Gulf of Alaska, 800 miles to the south of the mountain. The powerful lenses are difficult to use, requiring motion compensation by the astronaut, so these kinds of detailed images of horizon detail are seldom taken. The rising sun casts long shadows across the Kahiltna Glacier that angles down from Denali (left).

Published Aug 22, 2005

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Retreating Aral Sea Coastlines
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Retreating Aral Sea Coastlines

The arrow-shaped island in the Aral Sea used to be a 35-kilometer-long visual marker, indicating the Aral Sea to astronauts. An image from the present International Space Station increment shows how much the coastline has changed as the sea level has dropped during the last three decades.

Published Aug 15, 2005

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Grasberg Mine, Indonesia
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Grasberg Mine, Indonesia

Located in the Sudirman Mountains of the Irian Jaya province of Indonesia, the Grasberg complex is one of the largest gold and copper mining operations in the world.

Published Aug 1, 2005

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Dallas, Texas
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Dallas, Texas

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area is the largest in Texas, with an approximate population of 6 million people in 2005.

Published Jul 25, 2005

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Hurricane Emily and Luna
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Hurricane Emily and Luna

This unusual high-oblique (from the side) panoramic view of the eye of Hurricane Emily in 2005 was shot by the crew of the International Space Station while they passed over the southern Gulf of Mexico looking eastward toward the rising moon. The eye appears as a depression in the cloud deck, which stretches out to the horizon and fades into the limb (the bright blue cross-section) of the Earth’s atmosphere. At the time this image was taken, Emily was a strengthening Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds approaching 155 miles per hour. The hurricane was moving west-northwest over the northwest Caribbean Sea about 135 miles southwest of Kingston, Jamaica.

Published Jul 20, 2005

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Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The city of Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia (after Riyadh), and is the country’s most important Red Sea port. This astronaut photograph depicts the downtown district of Al Balad, a residential area historically (and presently) occupied by wealthy merchants.

Published Jul 18, 2005

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Searles Lake, California
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Searles Lake, California

Searles Lake is known for the abundance of rare elements and evaporate minerals, such as trona, hanksite, and halite formed within its sediments. Evaporites are minerals that are left behind when saltwater evaporates. This astronaut photograph depicts the Searles Lake playa (characterized by white surface mineral deposits) bounded by the Argus and Slate Mountains. The width of the playa is approximately 10 kilometers. The center of the image is dominated by mining operations that extract sodium- and potassium-rich minerals (primarily borax and salt) for industrial use.

Published Jul 11, 2005

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Las Cruces, New Mexico
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Las Cruces, New Mexico

The city of Las Cruces is located within the Rio Grande Rift, a large geological feature that extends from Colorado southwards into Mexico. The Rio Grande Rift is marked by a series of depressions punctuated with uplifted mountains. Sinking in one place is often accompanied by uplift along boundaries of the grabens—the striking Organ Mountains to the east of Las Cruces are one such uplifted fault block.

Published Jul 4, 2005

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Sept-îles, Gulf of St Lawrence, Quebec, Canada
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Sept-îles, Gulf of St Lawrence, Quebec, Canada

Seven Island Bay (left side of the image) is one of the largest and best-protected harbors on Quebec’s north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Because this is both a deep-water port and ice-free year round, Sept-Îles is one of Quebec’s busiest ports. Locally produced materials (iron ore, alumina) comprise the bulk of port traffic, but Sept-Îles also acts as a trans-shipment point for goods moving to Europe, the Far East, and South America.

Published Jun 27, 2005

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Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands
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Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands

The Port of Rotterdam, also known as Europoort (Eurogate), has been an important trading center since approximately AD 1250. The history of the port reflects the evolution of the world’s economic base. Originally serving the North Sea herring fleets, it rapidly grew into a major mercantile port during the Dutch colonial period. The 19th century witnessed the Industrial Revolution, and steel and coal became major commodities passing through the port. Following the development of petroleum as a primary energy resource in the early 20th century, the port expanded westward to accommodate storage facilities and large oil tankers.

Published Jun 20, 2005

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Fire Scars in Australia’s Simpson Desert
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Fire Scars in Australia’s Simpson Desert

Bright orange fire scars show up the underlying dune sand in the Simpson Desert, 300 kilometers east of Alice Springs, in this astronaut photograph taken from the International Space Station in November, 2003. The fire scars were produced in a recent fire, probably during the same year. The image suggests a time sequence of events. Fires first advanced into the view from the lower left—parallel with the major dune trend and dominant wind direction. Then the wind shifted direction by about 90 degrees so that fires advanced across the dunes in a series of frond-like tendrils.

Published Jun 13, 2005

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Ural River Delta, Kazakhstan
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Ural River Delta, Kazakhstan

The Ural River is one of the two major rivers (the other is the Volga) that empty into the northern coast of the Caspian Sea, creating extensive wetlands. This image shows details of the Ural’s tree-like (or “digitate”) delta. This type of delta forms naturally when wave action is low, and sediment content in the river is high. New distributary channels form in the delta when the river breaches natural levees created by sediment deposition. The long main channel of the river in this image and several of the distibutary channels are too regular to be entirely natural, however. Like the famous Mississippi River delta in the United States, the Ural River delta has been significantly modified to reduce flooding and divert water.

Published Jun 6, 2005

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Tarbela Dam, Pakistan
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Tarbela Dam, Pakistan

The Indus River basin extends from the Himalaya Mountains that form the northeastern boundary of Pakistan to the alluvial plains of Sindh near the Arabian Sea coastline. Tarbela Dam is part of the Indus Basin Project, which resulted from a water treaty signed in 1960 between India and Pakistan. This treaty guaranteed Pakistan water supplies independent of upstream control by India. Designed primarily for water storage rather than power generation, the dam was completed in 1977. Turquoise waters of the Indus River (to the south of the dam) reflect the high proportion of silt and clay suspended in waters released by the spillways.

Published May 30, 2005

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Khartoum, Sudan
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Khartoum, Sudan

Sudan’s capital city, Khartoum, translates as “Elephant’s Trunk.” The name describes the shape of the Nile where the Blue and the White Nile Rivers unite to form the single Nile River that flows northward into Egypt. This image shows the rivers near the end of the dry season. The White Nile (western branch) runs through Sudan from Uganda. It originates in equatorial regions, where rainfall occurs throughout the year, and as a result it runs at a nearly constant rate throughout the year. The Blue Nile, nearly dry this time of year, flows out of the Ethiopian highlands, where rainfall is more seasonal. It swells in the late summer and early fall with rains from the summer monsoons. The flow at these times can be so great that the volume is too much for the river’s channel, causing the Nile to flow backward at the junction.

Published May 23, 2005

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Baitoushan Volcano, China and North Korea
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Baitoushan Volcano, China and North Korea

One of the largest known eruptions of the modern geologic period (the Holocene) occurred at Baitoushan Volcano (also known as Changbaishan in China and P’aektu-san in Korea) about 1000 A.D., with erupted material deposited as far away as northern Japan—a distance of approximately 1,200 kilometers. The eruption also created the 4.5-kilometer diameter, 850-meter deep summit caldera of the volcano, which is now filled with the waters of Lake Tianchi (or Sky Lake). This oblique astronaut photograph was taken during the winter season, and snow highlights frozen Lake Tianchi and lava flow lobes along the southern face of the volcano.

Published May 16, 2005

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London, United Kingdom
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London, United Kingdom

Numerous well-known landmarks appear in this detailed view of London taken from the International Space Station.

Published May 9, 2005

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Jericho, West Bank
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Jericho, West Bank

Commonly known as “the oldest city in the world,” Jericho is an important historical, cultural, and political center located northwest of the Dead Sea. This astronaut photograph illustrates the city center, and the original settlement mound of Tell es-Sultan. Total distance across the image is approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles). Two large refugee camps are located to the northwest and south of the city center. The high building density of the refugee camps contrasts sharply with the more open city center and irrigated fields (green polygonal patches) of Jericho, and illustrates one of the physical consequences of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the region.

Published May 2, 2005

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Spring Thaw, Straits of Mackinac
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Spring Thaw, Straits of Mackinac

he Mackinac Bridge spans a stretch of water five miles wide between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. The strait connects Lakes Michigan (left) and Huron (right). The bridge is a combination of pier-supported spans with a high, central suspension sector that allows passage of lake steamers.

Published Apr 25, 2005

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