An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photograph of Neeltje Jans, an artificial island just offshore from the Zeeland province of The Netherlands. It is part of a network of land reclamation and coastal protection projects that have allowed millions of people to adapt to living below sea level.
The Eastern Scheldt tidal basin was Zeeland’s only barrier to the North Sea during a massive coastal flood in 1953, when a storm surge destroyed 138,000 hectares (340,000 acres) of land. The historic event inspired the Delta Plan, an engineering project to protect The Netherlands from future storm surges and coastal erosion through a series of artificial islands and dams.
In 1957, the construction of Neeltje Jans began. The artificial island was eventually connected to the Peilerdam and the Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier; together they reduced the inflow of water to the basin during storm surges and extreme high tides.
Zeeland (Dutch for “sea land”) is now the country’s largest agricultural province. Arable farmland here intersects with the sediment-laden water of the coastal tidal basin. The fertile estuarine environment is also well suited for harvesting fish, oysters, and mussels.
Astronaut photograph ISS066-E-137961 was acquired on February 8, 2022, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 1150 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing (ESRS) Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 66 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the ESRS 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 Amber Turner, Jacobs, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.