Clear Skies Over Alaska

Clear Skies Over Alaska

An astronaut took this photograph on a clear spring 2019 day while looking north toward mainland Alaska. At the time, the International Space Station (ISS) was located approximately 430 kilometers (270 miles) southeast of the Alaska Peninsula.

Clear views of Alaska from the ISS are uncommon due to frequent cloud cover and the limits of the ISS orbit trajectory. The spacecraft flies between 51.6° North and South, so regions near the Arctic Circle (66.5°N), are difficult to photograph and often beyond an astronaut’s field of view.

This oblique photograph offers a wide view toward the Seward Peninsula. The Bering Strait is visible with the easternmost reaches of Russia on the other side of the narrow waterway. Pack ice is floating through the strait toward the Bering Sea. The snow cover in this spring season photo highlights braided rivers, lakes, and the Ahklun Mountains.

Astronauts on some space shuttle missions had more direct views of Alaska for photography, such as this photo from mission STS042 that offers a different perspective on the Ahklun Mountains.

Astronaut photograph ISS059-E-36413 was acquired on April 27, 2019, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a 95 millimeter lens and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 59 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab 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 Andrea Meado, Jacobs Technology, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.