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TERRA-IFFIC

How humans shape the earth’s surface, as seen from space

NASA
If you run out of islands, just build some more.
  • Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

This article is more than 2 years old.

In the name of religion, nation, trade and progress, mankind has molded the surface of the earth into all kinds of shapes, from the pyramids at Giza to artificial islands. This week, Saudi Arabia even threatened to turn its neighbor Qatar, which is currently a peninsula, into an island by digging a canal along the border.

Many of these changes and structures are so big, they’re visible from space—albeit with sophisticated satellite imaging, or thanks to astronauts wielding strong telephoto lenses. Here’s a selection:

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