Imagine you had a window looking over our world. What pictures would you take and what sights would you see? Thanks to the astronauts onboard the International Space Station we can see the beauty of our Earth from the unique position of space. This is a view the majority of us will never experience! So I decided to hunt down the top 10 photos taken of the Earth from the International Space Station. Hang onto your seats as we start the countdown…..
10 – The Moon
There is only one word for this photo and that word is “Wow!” High above the clouds we can see our satellite, the Moon. It looks almost surreal, as if it’s floating in a sea of blue and white. The Moon is approximately 384,400km from us with twelve astronauts having walked on the moon between 1969 and 1972. They were part of the six Apollo missions which each landed two astronauts to walk on the moon’s surface. Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were the first, and Eugene Cernan and Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt were the last.
9 – Great Barrier Reef
Located off the coast of Queensland in Australia is the world’s largest coral reef system, The Great Barrier Reef. It is the world’s largest single structure which has been made by living organisms. Astronauts onboard the ISS have been able to see this structure from space which is truly amazing!
8 – Las Vegas
Las Vegas in the US state of Nevada is the most populous city in that state. It is a city best known for its casinos and gambling. It is also known as the city that never sleeps and from the image taken from the ISS at night it certainly lives up to its name! This is an amazing image taken in the Mojave Desert that shows Las Vegas shining like a beacon and looking like a portal to another Universe!
7 – Juan de Nova
I think this looks a bit like a strange Jellyfish type creature. But this is a tropical island in the Mozambique Chanel between Madagascar and the African mainland. The population of this 4.4sq km island is made up of a small French military garrison and a few meteorologists and scientists. What am amazing image to see above Earth’s atmosphere! Would it make a nice holiday destination?
6 – Nile at Night
The bright lights almost look like a flower about to blossom. I find this image particularly fascinating. It shows how the people living in this part of the world have settled close to the River Nile. The area around the Nile is small compared to the size of Egypt itself however this is where the concentration of people have distributed. The brightest part that you will be able to identify in the photograph along the River Nile is Egypt’s capital Cairo.
5 – Italy at night and Mount Vesuvius
Another amazing image of our Earth from space which I think is one of the prettiest nighttime images. Do you recognize the boot? Of course it is Italy. You can also see the lights of the many beautiful islands including Capri and Sicily. The bay of Naples is also lit up; it is the brightest section on this photograph. The amazing volcano Mount Vesuvius is also visible and stands out along the coast. Below is a photograph from the ISS of this dormant volcano during the day! If you are ever in Italy make the trip up Vesuvius, I can tell you from personal experience it is worth it.
4 – A Hurricane
This close-up view of the eye of Hurricane Isabel was taken by one of the Expedition 7 crewmembers onboard the ISS. Look closely and you can see the spiral structure and even the eye of the hurricane. At the time this photo was Isabel had reformed to a Category 5 storm, packing winds of 160 miles per hour. Isabel was the deadliest and also the most costly hurricane in 2003. North Carolina was hugely affected by this Hurricane where thousands of homes were damaged and destroyed. The path of Isabel caused around 5.7 billion dollars of damage. 16 deaths in seven US states were caused by the Hurricane. It is hoped that we can learn more about these natural occurrences from space.
3 – Australian Fires
This image taken recently (Jan 2013) shows the Australian wildfires as seen from the ISS. The fires were caused by soaring temperatures and swept through Tasmania and New South Wales. Thousands of acres of forest and homes were destroyed. Look closely and you can actually see the flames from orbit! This can be quite a disturbing image, yet it shows how we can monitor events on Earth from above the Earth’s orbit.
2 – New Zealand
I love this photograph! It shows astronauts Robert L. Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang working to attach a new truss segment to the ISS and beginning to upgrade the power grid on December 12, 2006. It really shows the wonderful colour and beauty of the world that we live on. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to perform a spacewalk above Earth?
1 – Ireland
What better photograph to put in at number one than the place that we live! As you can see Dublin, Cork and Belfast are prominent in this image. Even at night you can also make out Lough Neagh. So the next time you see the ISS coming across the sky just think that the astronauts onboard are looking right back down at us!
The ISS was launched in 1998 and in my opinion it still ranks as one of the most astounding feats of engineering accomplished by mankind. It is about the size of a football field which orbits the planet at 17,500 miles per hour every 90 minutes. As you can see the ISS has taken many beautiful images of Earth, these are just a few of them. Do you have any favourites, if so we would love to hear them! Just leave us a comment below!
(Article by Sinead McNicholl, Education Support Officer)