Astronauts aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of land fortifications along a 20-kilometer (12-mile) stretch of the Iraq-Iran border, near the coast of the Persian Gulf. Systems of large curved earthworks, circular gun emplacements, and straight connecting roads run parallel to the international border.
First thought by the ISS team to be oil-pad installations, the strategic location of these formations along the international boundary made it easier to see these as patterns of military fortifications. This region of oil refining and exporting was the center of numerous military actions during the war in the 1980s, especially during the defense of the southern city of Basra. The similarity to oil-pad patterns is apparent in May 2006 astronaut photos of West Texas that you can see here and here.
Astronaut photograph ISS041-E-111072 was acquired on November 7, 2014, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using an 800 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 41 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 M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC.
Agriculture and the petroleum industry compete for land use near Denver City, Texas, southwest of Lubbock near the New Mexico border. The economy of this region is almost completely dependent on its underground resources of petroleum and water. Both resources result in distinctive land use patterns visible from space. Historically this area has produced vast quantities of oil and gas since development began in the 1930s. Note the fine, light-colored grid of roads and pipelines connecting well sites over this portion of the Wasson Oil Field, one of the state’s most productive. Since the 1940s, agricultural land use has shifted from grazing to irrigated cultivation of cotton, sorghum, wheat, hay, and corn. The water supply is drawn from wells tapping the vast, but failing, Ogallala Aquifer. Note the large, circular center-pivot irrigation systems in the lower corners of the image. The largest is nearly a mile in diameter.
Shot by an astronaut looking westward from the International Space Station from a location over the eastern Gulf of Mexico, this May 4, 2010, photograph shows the Deepwater Horizon oil slick brushing the Chandeleur Islands.