Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of King Sound, a large gulf (approximately 120 kilometers long) on the northwest coast of Australia. The Sound has the highest tides in Australia—in the range of 11–12 meters (36-39 feet)—and the second highest in the world after the Bay of Fundy in Canada.
The strong brown smudge at the head of the Sound contrasts with the clearer blue water along the rest of the coast. This is mud stirred up by the tides and also supplied by the Fitzroy River, one of Australia’s largest. The bright reflection point of the Sun obscures the blue water of the Indian Ocean.
Just to the west of King Sound, thick plumes of wildfire smoke, driven by northeast winds, obscure the coastline. To the east, the wide field of “popcorn cumulus” clouds is a common effect of the daily heating of the land surface.
The Sound is named for Philip King, who surveyed the coastline in 1818. In the 1880s the area experienced a short-lived gold rush.
Astronaut photograph ISS040-E-89959 was acquired on August 8, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 28 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 the Expedition 40 crew. It 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 Lisa Vanderbloemen, Jacobs at NASA-JSC.