19 photos from NASA astronaut Scott Kelly show Earth's 'Infinite Wonder'

During his Year in Space mission, Scott Kelly saw our planet in a new light. Now, a book of his "Earth Art" is sharing those images with the world.


Claire Reilly

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1 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Earth Art

In 2015, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly blasted off to spend close to a year onboard the International Space Station. The "Year in Space" mission saw Kelly set the record for the total number of days spent in space by an American astronaut and allowed NASA to conduct tests on the effects of space travel on the human body. But it also allowed Kelly to take a year's worth of stunning photographs of the Earth, much of which he dubbed "Earth Art." 

With the launch of Kelly's new book of space photography, "Infinite Wonder," we take a look back at the most stunning images he took from the ISS. 

2 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Over the Bahamas

During his Year In Space, Kelly mostly shot on a Nikon D4, before transferring photos to a laptop to send back to earth. 

"The ground would downlink them periodically, every couple of hours assuming there were new ones available," he told CNET.

3 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

A carpet over the Middle East

Kelly tweeted this image from the ISS with the message, "Patches of emerald, amber and purplish-blue woven over #MiddleEast like a colorful carpet."

"I'm an OK photographer," Kelly told CNET. "I think my somewhat unique skill set was having an artistic eye when it came to photographing the earth, particularly the close up photos I called 'Earth Art'."

4 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Bahamas Blues

A shot showing "the depths of Bahamas blues." Speaking to CNET about the launch of his new book of photography, Scott Kelly said it wasn't bittersweet to look back on the images he took on his Year in Space mission. 

"I look at them with nostalgia of an incredible experience and privilege," he said. 

5 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Endless sand

From such a distance, Kelly's photos of the Earth lose a lot of their sense of place and become works of art. This shot, taken on May 8, 2015, shows the northern African Great Sand Sea, Libyan Desert and western Egypt.

6 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

The Himalayas

A birds eye view of a frozen lake in the Himalayas. 

7 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

The San Rafael Reef

Kelly took this photograph as the sun was rising over the San Rafael Reef in Utah in May 2015, creating a striking shadow.

8 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

True grit

Kelly tweeted this image in December 2015, after almost nine months in space, with the message "Get over your mountains with rock and grit."

9 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA


A photograph of the snowy foothills of Iran.

10 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

The Richat Structure

Also known as the "Eye of Africa," the Richat Structure is a geologic dome on the western edge of the Sahara, eroded over millions of years to show layers of sedimentary rock. It now makes for what Kelly calls a "wall-worthy art photo."

11 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Forbidden Canyon

Shadows over the Forbidden Canyon, Rainbow Plateau and San Juan River in Utah. 

12 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

African Violet

Kelly's photographs -- like this shot he dubbed "African Violet" -- look like they could be microscopic scientific images, despite being shot hundreds of miles from Earth. 

13 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Florida at night

Kelly didn't just capture images of natural landscapes from the ISS. This shot of the southeast of the United States shows the Florida panhandle and the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Kelly captured the night lights from 220 miles above Earth. 

14 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA


A photograph showing the "dance of the aurora" as Kelly described it. 

15 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Cloud over Japan

The ISS frames an image of Japan, taken in January 2016. 

16 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Space trivia

Kelly tweeted out this image in May 2015, asking his followers to name the four international borders shown in the photo. Two winners who correctly named Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Poland were given a signed copy of the photo when Kelly returned to Earth. 

17 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA


Kelly shot this image of "sunset colours" on Earth, capturing the Soyuz spacecraft in the foreground while it was docked at the ISS. 

18 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

Sand sea

The Namib Sand Sea in southwestern Africa, viewed from the window of the ISS. 

19 of 19 Scott Kelly/NASA

A new perspective

Scott Kelly tweeted this image of Earth after 330 days in Space, saying he had always been counting up through the days during his year in space. But with 10 days left in February 2016, he started counting down.  

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