A crew member aboard the International Space Station pushed the camera system to the limit to focus on the famous Iguazú Falls. The falls are the second most popular tourist attraction in South America (after Machu Picchu), drawing more than one million visitors.
The wide Iguazú River makes a sharp bend before plunging over the falls, which appear as the brightest white patches in the image. The falls are 60 to 90 meters high (200 to 260 feet), stretching 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) but interrupted by numerous islands and, in places, by one or two steps.
Hotels are located near the falls on both the Argentine and Brazilian banks of the river (which is also the international boundary). Wooden walkways lead visitors to every part of the falls. The longest walkway leads from the Argentine side for 1 kilometer (0.6 miles), crosses a wide expanse of the river, and ends at the lip of the most dramatic sector of the falls—the Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish). The falls here shoot a plume of spray so high into the air that it is visible from space. The early morning sun casts the shadow of the plume onto the river.
The falls run over hard layers of lava rock. River water and sediment are slowly eroding the falls backward (upstream). In this process, the wide sector of the river becomes a narrow gorge below the falls. The gorge is deep enough to cast its own shadow. The intense greens of the surrounding subtropical forests are protected by national parks established by Argentina and Brazil; both were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1984.
Astronaut photograph ISS047-E-131778 was acquired on May 24, 2016, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 1200 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 47 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 M. Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, Jacobs Contract at NASA-JSC.