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Spacecraft nadir point: 11.7° N, 99.8° W

Photo center point: 16.5° N, 96.5° W

Nadir to Photo Center: Northeast

Spacecraft Altitude: 225 nautical miles (417km)
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Image Caption: Wide-Eyed Over Mexico

An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photograph using a short camera lens, capturing almost all of Mexico in one shot. The wide field of view is framed by the center window of the ISS Cupola module and includes a solar array of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

This view encompasses most of Mexico's mountain ranges and long coastlines, though details like individual cities and volcanoes are not readily distinguishable. Active volcanoes like Popocatepetl, Colima, and Pico de Orizaba are nestled throughout the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. Mexico City, which is regularly rattled by earthquakes, sits at the foot of Popocatepetl.

Different climate zones are broadly visible in the image. On the southern coast facing the Gulf of Mexico, the climate is tropical and wet. Forests and coastal plains appear with a slight green tone. Looking inland, clouds tend to form around the mountains and often shroud tall volcanic peaks. The lighter toned tan-brown terrain of the interior is mostly desert country that stretches north across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Further Reading

  • Giddings, L. at al. (2005) Standardized Precipitation Index Zones for México. Atmosfera 18 (1).
  • NASA Earth Observatory (2016, January 25) Volcanic Activity at Popocatepetl.
  • NASA Earth Observatory (2011, February 10) Pico de Orizaba, Mexico.
  • NASA Earth Observatory (2011, January 22) Eruption of Colima Volcano.