Fantastic Earth from Above

Aerial photography can give us awesome perspectives, but when we zoom out and then observe the Big Blue Marble from high above, such as the breathtaking views of Earth from the ISS, it’s an eye-opening experience for most of us. Internationally, many countries have satellites and spacecrafts with their unblinking eyes focused on the Earth. These amazing photos offer us a unique window overlooking our world; viewing the Earth from above offers a stunning opportunity to see our wonderful planet in out-of-our-world ways that most humans will never experience in their lifetime.

Aurora Australis and Daybreak. The Aurora Australis, seen at right on Earth’s horizon, and daybreak (left) highlight this “busy” photograph taken by one of the Expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station.

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission makes global observations of soil moisture over Earth’s landmasses and salinity over the oceans.

Earth as seen from the ISS: A ‘Green Sea’ of Aurora Borealis (NASA, International Space Station, 01-25-12).

Earth at Night.

The Second Palm Island, Dubai. The islands are being built in shallow waters of the wide contintental shelf found off Dubai, using millions of cubic metres of sand dredged from the approach channel to the Jebel Ali port ? seen here adjacent to the artificial island named after it.

The Earth Observatory wrote, “Surrounded by darker, deeper ocean waters, coral atolls often glow in vibrant hues of turquoise, teal, peacock blue, or aquamarine. Belize’s Lighthouse Reef Atoll fits this description, with its shallow waters covering light-colored coral: the combination of water and pale corals creates varying shades of blue-green. Within this small sea of light colors, however, lies a giant circle of deep blue. Roughly 300 meters (1,000 feet) across and 125 meters (400 feet) deep, the feature is known as the Great Blue Hole.”

Banks Peninsula, New Zealand — a country offering snow-capped Alps and subtropics.

The Moon and Earth from the ISS with love (NASA, International Space Station, 01/08/12).

IKONOS Venice. The Venetian Lagoon, a crescent-shaped body of water between the Italian mainland and the Adriatic Sea, covers 550 sq km and has an average depth of approximately one metre. The lagoon and Venice were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Beautiful Bora Bora Island, Polynesia.

Earth as seen from the ISS: Atlantic Coast at Night (NASA, International Space Station, 02/06/12).

The ESA wrote, ESA's micro-satellite Proba observes the active Bromo volcano, a popular tourist attraction of East Java in Indonesia. Photo #12 by © SSTL through ESA

Great Red Island, Madagascar: “The southwestern area of Madagascar – the fourth largest island in the world – is highlighted in this Envisat image. The green coloured body of water visible just below the Mangoky River is Lake Ihotry. The Isalo National Park, which is located to the right in the image in the burnt orange area.”

Society Islands: “This Proba CHRIS image shows a typical atoll belonging to the Society Islands, part of the overseas territory of French Polynesia. The atoll is made of a deep central lagoon surrounded by submerged reefs and a small inlet, the main landstrip (8km long, 500m large) is densely vegetated.”

Dongting Lake and the Yangtze River: “China’s longest river and its second largest lake are central features of this Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) image. Dongting Lake is the large L-shaped body of water, seen towards bottom right in the image. It – and the Central Yangtze region in general – is an important habitat for numerous aquatic species including the Yangtze freshwater dolphin. Dongting’s total area varies considerably as Yangtze flood waters pour into the lake between July and September, the period within which this image was acquired.”

Holbox Island, Yucatan “One of the world’s most important ecosystems, Holbox and its surrounding waters are part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve. Its unspoiled beaches of fine white coralline sands are important for turtle nesting, and over 500 bird species can be found here. Caboe Catoche, the cape at the eastern tip of the island (right), is where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet. Their mingling waters create a kaleidoscope of turquoise and emerald hues.”

Southeastern U.S. at Night as seen from the ISS (NASA, International Space Station, 10/18/11).

Titled “Land of Terror, Sahara, Algeria“: The image shows the extraordinary landscape of the Tanezrouft Basin, one of the most desolate parts of the Sahara desert, in south-central Algeria. The region is known as ‘land of terror’ because of its lack of water and vegetation.

The Chishima Islands and Hokkaido as seen from the space shuttle.

Agricultural fields radiate away from the well-defined outer boundaries of Hajdúböszörmény, Hungary. The dark areas on the right are dense forests.

Rugen, Germany: “The icy waters of the Baltic Sea surrounding Germany’s largest island, Rügen, are pictured in this image from Japan’s ALOS observation satellite. Sea ice blankets the surrounding brackish waters, hugging the island’s shores with its many peninsulas. The white lines that cut through larger ice-covered bodies of water are the remnants of ice-breaking boats and ships.”

Earth Observatory: “From its vantage 824 kilometers (512 miles) above Earth, the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) satellite gets a complete view of our planet every day. This image from November 24, 2011, is the first complete global image from VIIRS.”

Heart Island, Croatia.

From the ISS: Aurora Australis Over New Zealand, Tasman Sea (NASA, International Space Station, 09/17/11).

Koror within the Caroline Islands of Palau “are visible in this Proba CHRIS image. The islands lie on the equator, 850km east of the Philippines. The population of Palau is approx. 20.000 the majority of which live on the island of Koror. A town of the same name at the top of the island serves as the capital.”

Previous Launching Pad for Space Shuttle Endeavour at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The Alps form a great crescent-shaped ridge extending from the Mediterranean to Austria.

Salty Lakes, Iran’s Neyriz Lakes, “Lake Bakhtegan (center) and Lake Tashk (top), situated in the Neyriz Basin, are salty lakes in the southeastern Zagros Mountains with fluctuating water levels according to rain and snowfall in the mountains.”

Disneyland Park, Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA.

Comet Lovejoy Fading (NASA, International Space Station, 12/27/11).

Earth Observatory, “Stretching across part of southwestern Bangladesh and southeastern India, the Sundarbans is the largest remaining tract of mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans is a tapestry of waterways, mudflats, and forested islands at the edge of the Bay of Bengal. Home to the endangered Bengal tiger, sharks, crocodiles, and freshwater dolphins, as well as nearly two hundred bird species, this low-lying plain is part of the Mouths of the Ganges. The area has been protected for decades by the two countries as a National Park, despite the large human populations concentrated to the north….This satellite image shows the forest in the protected area. The Sundarbans appears deep green, surrounded to the north by a landscape of agricultural lands, which appear lighter green, towns, which appear tan, and streams, which are blue. Ponds for shrimp aquaculture, especially in Bangladesh, sit right at the edge of the protected area, a potential problem for the water quality and biodiversity of the area.”

Dubai’s artificial islands: “Two manmade islands – Palm Jumeirah (left) and The World – located just off the coast of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Palm Jumeirah is the smallest of three massive palm-shaped islands, which also include Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira. The World (photo #7) is a collection of 300 islets, each ranging in size from 23 226 to 83 613 sq m, built in the shape of a world map.”

Nebraska: “This 1-meter IKONOS satellite image depicts a crop field at Offutt Air Force Base in which the words ‘Thank You! For Freedom!’ are visible all the way from space.”

Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Photo #34 by European Space Agency

Crater Lake, Oregon is featured in this image photographed by the International Space Station.

Moon Over Earth as seen from ISS.

The Earth and Moon.