An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of the city of Rome and its surrounding countryside. The radial pattern of major highways leading to the center is one of the main patterns revealed by the lights—a fitting echo of the ancient saying that “all roads lead to Rome.”
Clusters of lights help reveal the distribution of the 4.3 million residents of the metropolitan area. The city’s monuments and museums—such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum—are among the world’s most visited tourist destinations. Vatican City occupies a small part of the city center (4 hectares, or 110 acres) immediately north of a major city park (a dark area next to the Tiber River).
The Tiber flows through the city, but it is only visible in places where the lights outline its dark, meandering course. Other large and small dark areas reveal the location of parks, protected woodlands, and even some farmland. The coast (lower left) is invisible, as forests and the sea surface are equally dark in most night images.
The small town of Tivoli (29 kilometers or 18 miles east of Rome) is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the ruins of Emperor Hadrian’s villa and the Villa d’Este, a Renaissance villa and garden. Fiumicino Airport stands near the coastline.
Astronaut photograph ISS043-E-93564 was acquired on April 8, 2015, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 400 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 43 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.