20 Sparkling Images of the World’s Cities as Seen from Space

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Image: NASA
Liège, Belgium

The city of Liège in Belgium creates some crazy, squiggly looking lines in this photograph. In fact, the pattern of the city looks almost organic, like magnified blood vessels. The photo itself was shot with the European Space Agency’s Nodding mechanism. This relatively new piece of technology, also known as the NightPod, was designed especially for space station usage and compensates for the station’s movement relative to Earth – something that previously had to be done manually. As you can see, the results are impressive.


Image: NASA
Las Vegas, USA

Las Vegas is known for its bright lights at ground level, and it’s no surprise that they’re pretty intense from up in space as well. The blazing white section in the center is the Las Vegas Strip, which is supposedly the brightest place on the planet thanks to all the dazzling casinos and hotels. This photo was taken before the introduction of the NightPod system. In its place, the crew used a homemade tracking device to manually trace the city from the space station – which was moving at more than 15,659 miles per hour (over seven kilometers per second) in relation to Earth.

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Image: NASA
Kolkata, India

This is Kolkata, India at night, and as Canadian photographer and astronaut Chris Hadfield says, it’s “definitely not the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ of legend.” Lights can indicate the density of a city’s population in certain areas. Here, for example, we can see that most of the urban development follows the dark line of the Hooghly River and is most dense on the lower or east bank side.

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