Browse image
Resolutions offered for this image:
1000 x 664 pixels 540 x 359 pixels 2848 x 4288 pixels 720 x 720 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels 640 x 425 pixels
Cloud masks available for this image:
Binary Heatmap

Spacecraft nadir point: 23.7° N, 86.6° W

Photo center point: 21.1° N, 86.8° W

Photo center point by machine learning:

Nadir to Photo Center: South

Spacecraft Altitude: 222 nautical miles (411km)
Click for a map
Width Height Annotated Cropped Purpose Links
1000 pixels 664 pixels No No Earth From Space collection Download Image
540 pixels 359 pixels Yes No Earth From Space collection Download Image
2848 pixels 4288 pixels No No NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
720 pixels 720 pixels Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
4288 pixels 2848 pixels No No Download Image
640 pixels 425 pixels No No Download Image
Other options available:
Download Packaged File
Download a Google Earth KML for this Image
View photo footprint information
Download a GeoTIFF for this photo
Image Caption: Cancun, Mexico

A long lens was used by astronauts aboard the International Space Station to take this image, and it highlights many natural and built features. The street pattern of Mexico's tourist mecca, Cancun, contrasts with the waterways of the marinas that open into the bay and the lagoons. Brilliant blue water over coral reefs contrasts with the dark waters of inland lagoons. The reefs are the second largest reef system on Earth, and draw tourists from all over the world. The wide, well developed beach on the gulf coast (image upper right) is the result of vigorous wave energy, its white sand making it easily visible from space. But wave energy is reduced along Cancun's protected shoreline (image center) and the beaches are thin or non-existent. Fair-weather cumulus clouds are scattered across the image top left.

To shoot crisp mages with long lenses, astronaut photographers must learn to brace themselves against the ISS bulkhead to prevent any slight shaking that would blur or "smear" the picture. Counterintuitively, they then need to move the camera carefully retaining the target at the same point in the viewfinder (the landscape moves across the viewfinder quickly with long lenses). This is called tracking the target and requires good coordination by the photographer--again, to prevent blurring. Shorter lenses do not require this skill because the image appears to pass more slowly across the viewfinder.