Amazing Earth Images from the International Space Station

By NASA

The astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station take pictures and videos of Earth nearly every day, and over a year, that adds up to thousands of photos. In 2017, astronauts pointed a 4K camera down at the Earth to share a high-definition experience of traveling at 17,500 mph, 250 miles above the planet. The people at the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston had the enviable job of picking their top 17 photos of Earth for 2017 - here's what they chose.

Aurora borealis as seen from 216 nautical miles (400 km) above south central Canada.NASA

Aurora borealis is seen from 216 nautical miles (400 km) above south central Canada.

This weather phenomenon is caused by electrically charged protons from the Sun colliding with neutral atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The sunrise is seen over the PhilippinesNASA

A sunrise seen over the Philippines.

Layers of the Earth’s atmosphere appear above the Sun.

The International Space Station orbits Earth about every 90 minutes, traveling through 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours.

A system of windbreaking forest strips, known as a shelterbelt, is shown in southern Russia.NASA

A system of wind-breaking forest strips, known as a shelterbelt, is shown in southern Russia.

These 60-meter-thick lines of trees protect crops and reduce the erosion of steppe soils by wind.

Evaporation ponds shown outside Moab, Utah.NASA

Evaporation ponds shown outside Moab, Utah. They are part of a large operation to mine potassium chloride.

The different colours reflect varying states of evaporation - the tan colored ponds are almost dry, and once completely evaporated, the ponds leave salt crystals behind for collection.

The Betsiboka Estuary is the mouth of the Betsiboka River, one of Madagascar’s largest rivers.NASA

Rippled sand dunes in the Namib Desert.

This is one of the oldest and highest sand dunes in the world, at around 55 million years old and 1,000 feet above sea level.

Sand dunes rippled in the Namib Desert of Namibia.NASA

The Betsiboka Estuary is the mouth of the Betsiboka River, one of Madagascar’s largest rivers.

Almost a century of extensive logging of Madagascar’s rainforests and coastal mangroves has all but razed the land, resulting in extreme erosion as rainfall washes soil towards the coast.

Kazakhstan’s Lake Alakol, covered in ice sheets, is seen from 213 nautical miles (394 km) above Earth.NASA

Kazakhstan’s Lake Alakol, covered in ice sheets, is seen from 213 nautical miles (394 km) above Earth.

Northern France and southern UK are highlighted by city lights at night.NASA

A nighttime view of Northern France and the southern UK is punctuated by city lights.

Hawai’i seen from 219 nautical miles (406 km) aboveNASA

Hawai’i - the largest US island - is captured 219 nautical miles (406 km) above Earth.

Seen from the International Space Station, the volcanic plume from Sicily’s Mount Etna casts large shadows stretching down the rocky terrain.NASA

The volcanic plume from Sicily’s Mount Etna casts large shadows stretching down the rocky terrain.

Etna, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is in an almost constant state of activity.

Powerful Hurricane Jose is shown nearing the Eastern US in September 2017.NASA

Hurricane Jose approaches the eastern US in September 2017.

Jose was one of the most devastating hurricanes of 2017, posing threats to communities around the Atlantic Ocean and causing severe damage on the eastern coast of the US.

Naples, Italy shining bright at night for the astronauts in orbit.NASA

Naples, Italy shining bright at night for the astronauts in orbit.

The different colours of light reflect some of the area’s history - mercury vapor bulbs in green, and sodium bulbs in yellow-orange.

Mount Vesuvius is clearly visible as the large, black, circular area.

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano, is one of the active volcanoes responsible for the creation of Hawai’i.NASA

Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano, is one of the active volcanoes responsible for the creation of Hawai’i.

Through continental drift, in hundreds of thousands of years, it will eventually become inactive.

The darkness of night allows astronauts to see just how dense New York City and the surrounding area is.NASA

The darkness of night lets astronauts see just how dense New York City and the surrounding area is. One of the brightest lines is Interstate 95, crossing the image from Philadelphia and into New York, where it is drowned out by New York City lights, before passing along the coast to New Haven and further east.

The Cosmoledo Atoll of the Seychelles archipelago shown from 222 nautical miles (411 km) above.NASA

The Cosmoledo Atoll of the Seychelles archipelago shown from 222 nautical miles (411 km) above.

The atoll is home to a variety of bird species, and is a popular spot for fishing due to the large sand flats surrounding the land.

This volcanic field is found in Sudan and covers nearly 1,930 square miles (5,000 square km).NASA

This volcanic field is found in Sudan and covers nearly 1,930 square miles (5,000 square km).

There are almost 700 volcanic vents geologists believe may be less than 6 million years old.

The snowy forests of northern Idaho demonstrate how alternating patches of trees allows sustainable harvesting of older trees while younger patches regrow.NASA

The snowy forests of northern Idaho demonstrate how alternating patches of trees allows sustainable harvesting of older trees while younger patches regrow.

Top 17 Earth From Space Images of 2017 in 4K (2017-12-27) by Space Station CrewNASA

A video review of 2017’s top pictures from space.

The Earth: 4K Extended Edition (2017-02-11) by Space Station CrewNASA

Enjoy more ultra-high-definition views of Planet Earth, captured by NASA astronaut Jeff Williams during his mission on the International Space Station in 2016.

Earth Day 2017 - 4K Earth Views From Space (2017-04-22) by Space Station CrewNASA

And, in honor of Earth Day 2017, enjoy more ultra-high definition views of our home planet captured from 250 miles up on the International Space Station.

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