These clouds were spotted by Cristoforetti on day 195 of her 199 days in space (the longest spaceflight
ever achieved by a woman). They're "noctilucent"
clouds -- the highest clouds in the Earth's atmosphere, thin wisps on the edges
of upper atmosphere polar mesospheric clouds. They glow brilliantly at deep dusk.
The Caribbean from space is a stunning array of colours, as sudden peaks and troughs
around the islands give hue to the blue waters -- from deepest royal blue to
pale turquoise. You can see why pirates would need accurate charts of the
The deepest hypersaline lake in the world, with a surface
429 metres (1,407 feet) below sea level, is the Dead Sea,
located on the border between Palestine, Israel and Jordan. It's so salty that
nothing can live in it and the density of salt is so high that anyone can
easily float on its surface. It's also, sadly, receding:
potable water that would normally flow into the sea has been used by human
colonies nearby, making much of the shoreline unsafe.
glow of connected cities from space: Athens, Greece, glowing brightly in the lower middle,
with the lower section of the boot of Italy in the upper left. Lightning flashes in the upper right over the very western corner of Romania.
The ISS travels at a pretty high speed: 7.66 kilometres per
second (27,600 km/h, 17,160 mph), at an oblique
angle around the Earth. This means that astronauts on the station see the sun rise and set 15 or 16 times every 24 hours. If you love sunrise and sunset beyond
all reason, you might want to think about becoming an astronaut.
This is Jubbah, a
small town in the desert of Saudi Arabia, north and east from capital city
Riyadh. Originally built some 7,000 to 9,000 years ago, Jubbah is home to some
curious ruins and relics. It's one of the most important
locations for rock-art carvings in the Middle East. Its carvings include
petroglyphs and ancient inscriptions in Thamudic, a pre-Islamic North Arabic
This image is upside down. North was facing downward when
Cristoforetti took it.
The variety of clouds, clockwise from upper left: a Karman vortex street, usually caused
by the separation of wind flow around a mountain top, creating a series of
vortices in the clouds; stratocumulus castellanus; cirrocumulus castellanus;
and clouds pulling together into the spiral rain bands of a hurricane.
Patterns of the Earth, clockwise from top left: Qasr al-Farafra in western Egypt; west
of the Exuma Trough in the Bahamas; the Tibesti mountain range in the northwest
of Chad, North Africa; the desert in the south of Saudi Arabia, near the Yemen
This is Cristalina
in the state of Goias, Brazil, south of the capital, Brasilia. The circles are
created by centre-pivot irrigation, where sprinkler equipment rotates around
a centre pivot, creating a circular area that gets watered.
The deep eye of Typhoon Maysak, an unusually intense cyclone for the 2015 Pacific typhoon
season. It affected both the Philippines and Micronesia, developing around
March 26-28 and intensifying into a supertyphoon on March 31, when this
photograph was taken.
on the southeast of the Tibesti Mountains in Chad, North Africa, is a volcano,
but no longer active. It's an uncommon pyroclastic shield volcano -- that is, a
type of volcano formed by magma.
Not the kind that wants to kill Sarah Connor. The terminator -- also known as "the twilight zone" -- is the moving
line that separates the light side of a planet from the dark. Who knew that
dusk was so badass.