Along the west coast of Baja California, roughly one third of the
peninsula’s length from its southern tip, the land pokes westward like
a slightly bent elbow. The area is a combination of sparsely vegetated
desert, sand dunes, mangroves, braided streams, shallow coastal waters,
and mountainous islands.
In this astronaut photograph, taken from a vantage point west of the
peninsula, north is toward the upper left. Toward the east, the desert
appears in shades of tan and beige. Blue-green mangroves infiltrate the
desert, following irregular paths toward the northeast. Within these
mangroves, deep blue streams and rivers form and flow toward the
shallow waters near the coast.
Along the Pacific shore (image lower left), breaking waves form an
irregular white line. The waves are barely lighter than the sand dunes
of the broad coastal plain, which stretches inland toward the
mangroves. West of the mangroves, two islands rise above the ocean
surface. Their rugged topography contrasts sharply with that of the
thin, curving barrier beach that connects them.
Almost completely surrounded by ocean, the coastal town of Puerto
San Carlos serves as a base for tourists visiting the area to watch
whales. Grey whale migration season—January through March—brings both
cetaceans and tourists to the area.
Astronaut photograph STS129-E-6916 was acquired on November 20, 2009, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera. The image was taken by the STS-129 crew.
The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve
contrast. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be
viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Michon Scott.