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Astronaut photographs a single airplane from space

It's a long way from the space station down to Earth, but an astronaut still managed to photograph a tiny airplane from orbit.

I've never been to the International Space Station, but I imagine the world can look pretty small when seen from so far above Earth's surface, like you could fit lakes in the palm of your hand.

Orbiting astronauts have turned in quite a few glorious photographs from up there, but there's always something new to amaze space fans.

NASA today released an Image of the Day of Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas. It's another space view stunner, showing broken island cays with dark blue tidal channels running between them like crepe paper streamers. The main island is offscreen to the right.

NASA notes, "For astronauts, this is one of the most recognizable points on the planet."

If this were just an image of the beautiful islands seen from an extraordinary vantage point, then that would be plenty to look at. But there's something else going on here.

This tiny jet made a cameo appearance in an astronaut photo. NASA [Arrow added]

NASA writes, "Thanks to the astronaut's steady hands in controlling a long lens in weightlessness, this photograph is detailed enough to show a single aircraft and its twin condensation trails."

The airplane wasn't the target of the photo, but it's an impressive side effect. Zoom in and you can see it as a white silhouette against the blue water background. The contrails stream out behind.

The image was taken using a Nikon D4 camera on July 19 when Expedition 44 crewed the station. The astronaut with the steady hand is not named.

The photograph joins an illustrious lineup of recent images from the space station. Back in June, NASA astronaut Terry Virts delivered an impressive photo of the pyramids at Giza. In August, Scott Kelly, currently in the middle of a year-long ISS stay, shared a photo of an aurora glowing along the curvature of the Earth.

The full image showing the island cays west of Great Exuma Island. NASA