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Astronaut snaps fantastically clear pic of Egyptian pyramids from space

A NASA astronaut triumphantly completes a challenging quest to capture a decent image of the pyramids in Egypt from the International Space Station.

Pyramids seen from space
A look at the pyramids from far above. NASA/Terry Virts

NASA astronaut Terry Virts just arrived back on Earth on Thursday after over six months floating high above the planet on the International Space Station. Right before his return, he left us with one last photographic gift from space: a stunning image of the pyramids at Giza as seen from orbit.

Virts tweeted the picture on Wednesday with the caption, "It took me until my last day in space to get a good picture of these!" The pyramids have been an object of photographic fascination for astronauts before, but clear images have been elusive. Virts' effort is notable because you don't have to play "Where's Waldo?" to locate the pyramids in the image.

European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti captured a photo of the area on April 1. You have to hunt around for the small dark triangles near the center to find the pyramids in her picture. This sort of long-distance shot is more typical of astronauts' views of man-made objects from space.

The International Space Station hurtles around in orbit at a speed of nearly 5 miles per second. That makes it a bit of a challenge to pinpoint relatively small objects on the planet's surface using a camera. Virts' last-ditch effort to record such a clean image of the pyramids, therefore, is quite an achievement.

Pyramids from space
Look for the small shadowy triangles. ESA/Samantha Cristoforetti

(Via Mashable)