Nothing is quite as humbling as the sight of Earth from above. Viewed from the International Space Station, areas of disputed land shrink to tiny cracks, while entire nations are no bigger than quarters.
Take a look for yourself, in this collection of NASA’s
favorite space photos from 2015, released last month (Dec. 28). 1. Thunderstorms, northwest Mexico A red sprite above the white light of an active thunderstorm (image top left). Expedition 44: August 10, 2015 2. Aquaculture, northeast China A grid pattern of fish farms on the coast of China’s northeast province of Liaoning. Expedition 44: September 6, 2015 3. India-Pakistan border at night Nighttime panorama looking north across Pakistan’s Indus River valley. Expedition 45: September 23, 2015 4. Lake Chad and a Sahara dust plume The arid landscapes of the Sahara and the darker vegetation of the wetter, semi-arid woodland known as the Sahel. Expedition 42: February 2, 2015. 5. Volcanoes and vortices, Hawaii Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano (image left) with the long swirls of volcanic gases (top half of the image) wafting west from the volcano. Expedition 42: February 8, 2015. 6. Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia A dramatic view of the many peaks of Colombia’s Santa Marta massif. Expedition 42: February 27, 2015. 7. Scandinavia at night Southern Scandinavia just before midnight under a full moon. Expedition 43: April 3, 2015. 8. Brown water, Argentina The eye-catching delta and green swamps of the Paraná River (image left) on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. Expedition 43: April 6, 2015. 9. Rivers and snow in the Himalayas, China and India The Himalaya range, near the China–India border, where peaks cast strong evening shadows on the snow. Expedition 43: April 8, 2015. 10. Laguna Colorada, Bolivia The brightly colored Laguna Colorada, unique in this part of the Bolivian Andes Mountains. Expedition 43: April 16, 2015. 11. Adele Island, northwest Australia A tiny island with many concentric zones around it. Adele Island, off Australia’s north coast. Expedition 44: June 11, 2015. 12. Salt Ponds, western Australia Coastal lagoons with numerous rounded islands are typical of the Indian Ocean coastline of Western Australia. Expedition 44: June 11, 2015. 13. Cape Cod, Massachusetts The northern tip of Cape Cod—showing 8.5 miles (14 km) of its 65-mile (105 km) length. Expedition 44: June 13, 2015. 14. The port of Sfax, Tunisia The radiating street pattern of Tunisia’s second city and major port of Sfax (population ~900,000), which also hosts Tunisia’s largest fishing fleet. For scale the fishing port is 1.1 km long. Expedition 44: June 19, 2015. 15. Flooding on the Mekong River floodplain, Thailand and Laos The Mekong River on the border between Thailand and Laos. Expedition 44: August 8, 2015.