Astronauts On The ISS Share Some Of The Most Incredible Photos Of Earth From Above

The Earth is beautiful, but only a very select few get to truly appreciate it from afar. Since its launch, only 240 people from 19 countries have ever been to the International Space Station (ISS).

While there, they take plenty of photographs documenting the incredible views. In the 20 years that the ISS has been continuously occupied, thousands of photos have been taken. Here is just a small sampling of some of the amazing sights.

Ripples Of Erosion


In this shot, the Susquehanna River is running through the Appalachian Mountains section called the Valley-and-Ridge province.

The unique alternating pattern of sedimentary rock from the Early Paleozoic and softer, more easily eroding rock has created ripples of ridges and valley farmland.

Sixteen Sunrises


Each day, the ISS orbits the Earth 16 times, and that means that the astronauts get to see 16 sunrises and sunsets.

Even before the sun is visible, the atmosphere begins to glow.

Volcanic Might


In June 2019, the Raikoke Volcano, located in the Kamchatka Peninsula erupted for the first time since 1924. Astronauts were treated to this amazing view of the ash plume bursting through the cloud layer.

Ice Cream Islands


This image of the Bahamas makes me think of the blue ice cream I was obsessed with as a kid.

I've never been to the Bahamas myself, but I can see why the local waters are praised so much.

Colorado River


Look at this amazing view of the Colorado River and Lake Powell among the golden vistas of Utah and Arizona.

Direction is often relative from the ISS, which was North of the lake when this photo was took. So "South" is actually the top left corner of this image. Weird, huh?



Some cities have unique landmarks that immediately help the astronauts identify it. Sfax in Tunisia is one of those cities, with its circular earthworks of the Taparura redevelopment project and the colorful salt ponds.

The Red Sea At Night


Along the coast of the Red Sea, the Saudi Arabian city of Jazan lights up at night for a sparkling view.

The small patch of lights over the water is the Farason Island Marine Sanctuary.

Painter's Palette


We think of the Earth in terms of blues and greens, but it's actually full of color. Like these mineral pools along the French Mediterranean coast.

Not The Northern Lights


We all know about the Aurora Borealis, but not a lot of us realize that it has a southern sibling, the Aurora Australis. ISS astronauts are able to get a great look as they orbit over the southern Indian Ocean.

The Sun Over The Atlanic Ocean


What really stands out to me about this image is how the sun's brightness completely washes out the rest of the stars, leaving an incredible blackness reaching out into eternity.

City Of Lights


Often, astronauts have to put up with a stray wisp of cloud peeking into their photos even on clear days, but occasionally, they get a perfectly clear shot like this one of Paris at night.

Otherworldly Beauty


This looks so alien, but it's actually Bombetoka Bay on the northwestern coast of Madagascar. There, the Mozambique Channel salt water meets up with the freshwater of the Betsiboka River.

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