What an Astronaut’s Camera Sees (and What a Geographer Learns About Our Planet) from the ISS

Justin Wilkin­son has a pret­ty cool sound­ing gig. He’s the chief geo­sci­en­tist at NASA, and he learns all about plan­et Earth from space. When astro­nauts head to the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion (ISS), Wilkin­son asks them to snap pic­tures of var­i­ous geo­graph­i­cal loca­tions. And, from this van­tage point 250 miles above the plan­et’s sur­face, he learns many things — for exam­ple, he tells Slate, “there are a lot more exam­ples of a geo­graph­i­cal phe­nom­e­non called an inland delta or megafan—that is, deltas formed far from coastlines—than was once thought.”

Out of Wilkin­son’s research comes some great pic­tures and videos, and today we’re fea­tur­ing two clips. The first video above shows you what an astro­naut sees at night, giv­ing you an aer­i­al tour of cities and coast­lines in the Amer­i­c­as, the Mid­dle East and Europe. The equal­ly impres­sive video below gives you stel­lar shots (in day­light) of Namib­ia, Tunisia, Mada­gas­car, Sici­ly, Chi­na, Iran, and Utah. You’ll find these videos added to our col­lec­tion of Great Sci­ence Videos. Cours­es on astron­o­my can be found in our col­lec­tion of Free Cours­es Online.  h/t @stevesilberman

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