Astronaut Paolo Nespoli’s Photos of Earth From Space

May 28, 2011 6 comments

ESA’s astronaut Paolo Nespoli, while working and living on the International Space Station, started sharing his experience with the world via a constant flow of beautiful photos and tweets. Nespoli remained in space for 159 days, with a hectic schedule of working on experiments, doing International Space Station (ISS) housekeeping and maintenance, supporting the docking of two cargo craft and conducting robotic work, as well as daily training. But he has still found time to capture beautiful pictures. (also see Astronaut Douglas Wheelock Shares Amazing Photos From Space)


Cupola, with its seven big windows, is a unique place in the Space Station, from which astronauts can see almost 180 degrees to the Earth-facing side of the ISS.

"Flying in space and locating the objects around is not easy. The main reason for Cupola is doing robotics, moving cargo with the Station's robotic arms, and in this Cupola really enhances our capability of being very efficient in space."

But Cupola has also turned an orbiting laboratory into a home. "When I have free time, even only 5 minutes, I just hover in Cupola looking down," explains Paolo.

"It is amazing, because I find constantly something new. As the Station is moving very fast, the view is changing all the time and the lighting conditions, season, position of the Sun and the whole situation is never the same."

Paolo describes his feelings: "I have managed to get most of the targets I wanted to photograph, like the pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, but there are still a few things I would like to catch. Like the Nazca Lines in Peru. I really would like to see those!" Sometimes Paolo has a certain target in his mind, but often Paolo just snaps a photo when something interesting appears below.


The ISS flies over Cuba


This is an atoll in the Pacific Ocean located about 1000 km North-East of the Solomon Islands. Paolo had been looking for quite some time for something heart shaped to post on Valentine’s day, but could never find anything, no matter how hard he looked. Once when working on an exercise machine, Paolo looked out the window and saw this atoll passing by. Wasting no time, he quickly grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures; there was nothing else around it, just water and clouds.


Lightning during a thunderstorm over Brazil.  Thunderstorm broke out in an area having a diameter not less than 80 km


Condensation trails of aircraft flying at high altitudes


Magnificent glacial landscape of northern Canada


Scene over Tietê River, Brazil


Caribbean waters off the coast of Belize


Desert in Somalia


Ice-covered Lake Bairab, China


Blue expanse of ocean


The island of Sicily


Amazing colors of the earth in southern Australia


Venezuela's Los Roques archipelago, located in the Caribbean


Huge clusters of red algae


Lake Cadibarrawirracanna, South Australia


Prominent Hill mine, South Australia


Lake Frome, South Australia


Mount Taranaki/Mount Egmont, New Zealand


Grand Canyon, United States


River delta




Volcano: Onekotan Island, Russia


Dual volcanoes in the Andes


Rome, Italy at night


26-I long-term expedition to the ISS team members - engineer Catherine Coleman (right), commander Scott Kelly (center) and flight engineer Paolo Nespoli (left)

Sources: Flickr, Space Daily


  1. Wow, this is amazing! It's so great the technology is so advanced that astronauts can share these images quickly with us. Most people will never get to see all of these sights. This is beautiful.

  2. Those are absolutely beautiful pictures. I am so jealous that I probably will never get to see these sights personally but thank you for sharing all of this!

  3. Our earth is truly stunning!!

  4. Amazing! My biggest dream is to see our Mother Earth from Space, like you did.

    1. Me too!!! It is getting within reach, but not this way... The space station is very high up at 205-255 miles above the Earth!

  5. Be sure to check out the UStream live video feed from the ISS. It's usually up 24/7 and is fascinating to watch the Earth pass under the station. Night time views are especially fascinating with all the artificial lighting of Earth's various cities... Link:


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