Astronauts’ stunning photos from the International Space Station show Earth’s triumphs and tragedies in 2022
From sunsets and moonrises to spewing volcanoes and breathtaking deserts, life in space is beautiful.
The best astronaut photos of 2022 reveal surreal beauty alongside extreme weather and war.
Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have a unique view from 250 miles above Earth. They can see both beauty and destruction on the planet below.
“It’s hard to explain because the emotions are absolutely overwhelming. It’s an incredible scene of colors, clouds and land,” NASA astronaut Nicole Mann told the Associated Press in October.
“It’s hard not to stay in the dome all day,” she says added.
The ISS orbits the planet, completing one orbit every 90 minutes.
That means astronauts see 16 sunrises and sunsets every day.
Orbital sunrises are breathtaking. The colors flow across the horizon, cutting through the darkness of the nighttime earth and the blackness of space above.
Astronauts can also see the moon rise and set over the curvature of the Earth.
Looking at Earth, astronauts can see even more colors in the stunning diversity of our planet’s landscapes.
Prominent natural features, such as this circular rocky outcrop in the Sahara, often attract the attention of astronauts.
Another circular structure, in icy and rocky Quebec, comes from a meteor impact during the Triassic period.
It can be seen from quite a distance.
Some landscapes appear abstract, such as Minnesota’s famous lakes at night, which resemble shattered glass or water spilled over a dark table.
Others are simpler, such as Italy and Sicily stretching out over the sea, such as Michelangelo’s fresco of Adam and God reaching for each other’s fingertips.
Did you see the volcano in that last photo? Here’s a closer look. Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe.
Preserved areas often have unique natural landscapes. This national park in Australia has a river that cuts through red soil and fills a series of lakes.
Some of the best sights come at night.
At night, astronauts can get a beautiful view of the Milky Way stretching above them. In this photo, a lightning bolt flashes on Earth below.
Astronauts also regularly enjoy stunning shows of the aurora dancing over the north and south poles.
But 2022 wasn’t all beautiful sunsets and breathtaking landscapes. Astronauts on the ISS said they could see the war unfolding in Ukraine, though they didn’t post any pictures of it.
“At the beginning of the war, it got dark all over the country at night,” German astronaut Matthias Maurer said in May, adding: “People really only recognized Kiev.”
He told the program “Morgenmagazin” of the German broadcaster ARD, according to a translation in News week.
“Then you could also see the impacts in the early days of the war. In Kiev, you could see lightning at night,” as well as the “missiles hitting,” he added, according to Newsweek.
Extreme weather ravaged the world — like Hurricane Ian, which the ISS flew over as it approached Florida.
The ISS often gets a unique glimpse into the eye of a storm. The station also flew over Hurricane Fiona just days after it cut Puerto Rico’s power.
Astronauts can also see the long-term damage that humans have caused. This lake is inundated with red algae because dams and agriculture have taken so much water from it, and drought has further depleted it.
However, astronauts don’t look out the window all day. They are busy experimenting and maintaining…
…welcome new spaceships full of astronauts or cargo to the ISS…
… say goodbye to other spaceships…
…or just having fun…
… but they still take the time to appreciate the view from 250 miles.
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