This panoramic view of the southwestern United States and Pacific
Ocean was taken by an astronaut looking out at an angle from the
International Space Station (ISS). While most unmanned satellites view
the Earth from a nadir perspective—collecting data while looking
“straight down”—astronauts onboard the ISS can acquire imagery at a wide
range of viewing angles using handheld digital cameras. The ISS nadir
point—the point on Earth’s surface directly below the spacecraft—was
located in northwestern Arizona, approximately 260 kilometers (160
miles) to the east-southeast, when this image was taken.
The image includes parts of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California, as
well the coastline of Baja California, Mexico (image center left). The Las Vegas metropolitan area appears as a gray region adjacent to the Spring Mountains and Sheep Range (both covered by white clouds). The Grand Canyon, located on the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, is visible to the east of Las Vegas, with the blue waters of Lake Meadin between.
The image also includes the Mojave Desert, stretching north from the Salton Sea to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Sierra Nevada is roughly 640 km long (north-south) and forms the boundary between the Central Valley of California and the adjacent Basin and Range
physiographic province. The Basin and Range is so called because of the
pattern of long linear valleys separated by parallel mountain ranges.
The landscape was formed by extension and thinning of the Earth’s crust.
Astronaut photograph ISS024-E-14071
was acquired on September 9, 2010 with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera
using a 32 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations
experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space
Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 24 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab
to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest
value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely
available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and
cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.