Images of Earth From Outer Space

As if you needed another reason to want to leave Earth behind on a spacecraft, the images in this gallery show the absolute beauty that would await you outside our world. Most of these images were taken from the space shuttle missions, International Space Station and Apollo missions. 

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Denmark From Space

Denmark As Seen From the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Finding clear weather over Europe is a rare occurrence, so when the skies cleared over Denmark, the crew of the International Space Station took advantage.

This image was taken February 26, 2003, from the International Space Station. Denmark, as well as other parts of Europe, are readily visible. Note the snow of winter and mountain peaks.

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Bruce McCandless Hanging Out in Space

Bruce McCandless Hanging Out In Space. Image Credit: NASA

Living and working in space always provides rewards... and dangers.

During one of the most daring spacewalks ever performed, astronaut Bruce McCandless left the space shuttle using a Manned Maneuvering Unit. For a few hours, he was completely separated from our planet ​and the shuttle, and he spent his time admiring the beauty of our home world. 

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Curvature of the Earth as Seen Above Africa

Curvature Of The Earth As Seen Above Africa. Image Credit: NASA

Clouds and oceans are the most obvious things from orbit, followed by the landmasses. At night, the cities glitter.

If you could live and work in space, this would be your view of our round world each minute, each hour, each day. 

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Image From Space Shuttle

Image Credit: NASA

The space shuttle fleet operated in low Earth orbit (LEO) for 30 years, delivering humans, animals, and modules of the International Space Station during its construction. Earth was always a backdrop to the shuttle's projects.

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Michael Gernhardt Hanging Out

Michael Gernhardt Hanging Out. Image Credit: NASA

Living and working in space often requires lengthy spacewalks.

Whenever they could, astronauts "hung out" in space, working and occasionally just enjoying the view. 

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Flying High Over New Zealand

Flying High Over New Zealand. Image Credit: NASA

Shuttle and ISS missions have provided high-resolution imagery of every part of our planet. 

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Astronauts Working on Hubble Space Telescope

Astronauts Repairing Hubble. Image Credit: NASA

The Hubble Space Telescope refurbishing missions were among the most technically complex and mind-blowing projects undertaken by NASA.

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Hurricane Emily From Space

Hurricane Emily From Space. Image Credit: NASA

Not only do low-Earth orbit missions show us what the surface of our planet is like, but they also provide real-time looks at our changing weather and climate.

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Looking Down on the International Space Station

Looking Down On The International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Shuttles and Soyuz craft have visited the International Space Station throughout its history on orbit.

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Southern California Fires as Seen From Space

Southern California Fires As Seen From Space. Image Credit: NASA

Changes on Earth's surface, including forest fires and other catastrophes, are often detectable from outer space. 

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Earth as Seen From the Space Shuttle Discovery

Earth As Seen From The Space Shuttle Discovery. Image Credit: NASA

Another great shot of Earth, looking back over Discovery's shuttle bay. Shuttles orbited our planet every hour and a half during their missions. That meant unending vistas of Earth. 

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Algeria as Seen From Space

Algeria As Seen From Space. Image Credit: NASA

Sand dunes are landscapes that shift constantly at the whim of the wind. 

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Earth as Seen From Apollo 17

Earth As Seen From Apollo 17. Image Credit: NASA

We live on a planet, watery and blue, and it's the only home we have.

Humans first saw their planet as a whole world through the lenses of cameras taken along by the ​Apollo astronauts as they headed to lunar exploration. 

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Earth as Seen From the Space Shuttle Endeavour

Earth As Seen From The Space Shuttle Endeavour. Image Credit: NASA

Endeavour was built as a replacement shuttle and performed spectacularly during its lifespan.

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Earth as Seen From the International Space Station

Earth As Seen From The International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Studying Earth from ISS gives planetary scientists a long-term look at our planet

Imagine having this view from your living quarters each day. Future space inhabitants will live with constant reminders of the home planet. 

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Earth as Seen From the Space Shuttle

Earth As Seen From the Space Shuttle. Image Credit: NASA

Earth is a planet—a rounded world with oceans, continents, and an atmosphere. Orbiting astronauts see our planet for what it is—an oasis in space.

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Europe and Africa as Seen From Space

Europe And Africa As Seen From Space. Image Credit: NASA

Land areas are living maps of our world.

When you look at Earth from space, you don't see political divisions such as boundaries, fences, and walls. You do see the familiar shapes of continents and islands. 

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Earth Rising From the Moon

Earth Rising From the Moon. Image Credit: NASA

Beginning with the Apollo missions to the Moon, astronauts succeeded in showing us our planet as it looks from other worlds. This one shows how lovely and small Earth really is. What will be our next steps in space? Light sails to other planets?  Bases on Mars?  Mines on asteroids?  

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Full View of the International Space Station

Full View Of The International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

This could be your home in space someday.

Where will people live in orbit?  It may turn out their homes could look like the space station, but more luxurious than the astronauts currently enjoy. It's possible that this will be a stopping-off place before people head to ​work or vacation on the Moon. Still, everyone will have a great view of Earth!  

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The International Space Station Flying High Above the Earth

The International Space Station Flying High Above The Earth. Image Credit: NASA

From the ISS, astronauts show us the continents, mountains, lakes, and oceans through images of our planet. It's not often we get to see exactly where it is they live.

 The International Space Station orbits the planet every 90 minutes, giving astronauts—and us—an ever-changing view. 

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Lights Across the World at Night

Lights Across The World At Night. Image Credit: NASA

At night, the planet glitters with the light of the cities, towns, and roads. We spend a lot of money lighting up the sky with light pollution. Astronauts notice this all the time, and people on Earth are starting to take steps to reduce this wasteful use of power.