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The Last Shuttle Images of Earth

Farewell Shuttle Atlantis July 10


(Image credit: NASA)

The space shuttle Atlantis is back home after 13 days in space as NASA's final shuttle mission comes to a close.

To commemorate the historic event, we're taking a look at some of the spectacular images of our home planet that the astronauts took from Atlantis and the International Space Station during their stay.

This image is a nadir view of the space shuttle Atlantis and its payload was provided by one of a series of images showing various parts of the shuttle in Earth orbit.

Guide Marker July 9


(Image credit: NASA)

As in the case of many previous space missions, the Great Salt Lake in Utah serves as a striking visual marker for the STS-135 astronauts orbiting over North America in the space shuttle Atlantis. A sharp line across the lake's center is caused by the restriction in water flow from the railroad causeway. The eye-catching colors of the lake stem from the fact that Great Salt Lake is hypersaline, typically 3-5 times saltier than the ocean.

The Boot July 9


(Image credit: NASA)

An almost vertical view from the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Atlantis, photographed by one of four STS-135 crewmembers, shows the southernmost part of Italy, referred to as the "boot." The eastern-most part of Sicily made it into the frame at left. The dark triangle in upper left corner is part of the window frame on the shuttle's flight deck. When the photo was taken, the STS-135 astronauts were on the mission's second day of activity in Earth orbit, and the eve of docking day with the International Space Station.

Atmosphere On-Edge July 9


(Image credit: NASA)

The thin blue line of Earth's atmosphere is the dominant feature in the photo, which also shows Atlantis' cargo bay and vertical stabilizer.

Bahamas View July 10


(Image credit: NASA)

The beautiful blues and greens of the Bahamas can be seen here below the shuttle Atlantis prior to a flawless docking with the International Space Station during the very last shuttle mission.

Looking Home July 12


(Image credit: NASA)

The "Tongue of the Ocean" and several of the 2700 islands in the Bahamas chain and part of peninsular Florida, including Cape Canaveral, the location of the Kennedy Space Center, are easily recognized in this scene photographed by one of the STS-135 crewmembers while Atlantis was docked with the International Space Station. The frame just barely misses Cape Canaveral, which is out of frame at right.

Moon on the Horizon July 12


(Image credit: NASA)

One of the Expedition 28 crewmembers aboard the ISS recorded this image of Earth's horizon and the moon during the week and a half period that the orbiting complex was hosting Atlantis and its crew for the final Space Shuttle Program mission.

On Top of the World July 12


(Image credit: NASA)

The Persian Gulf can be seen below astronaut Ron Garan, Expedition 28 flight engineer, during the July 12 spacewalk he performed outside the docked International Space Station and space shuttle Atlantis with station crewmate Mike Fossum (out of frame).

Photo Opportunity July 12


(Image credit: NASA)

A crewmember on the joint STS-135/Expediton 28 aggregation photographed this image of parts of Mexico, including Baja California the Gulf of Cortez. This photo opportunity presented itself on July 12 a very busy spacewalk day. [Related: What a View: Amazing Astronaut Images of Earth ]

Aurora Australis July 14


(Image credit: NASA)

This panoramic view, photographed from the ISS, looking past the docked space shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay and part of the station including a solar array panel toward Earth, was taken on July 14 as the joint complex passed over the southern hemisphere. Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights can be seen on Earth's horizon, and a number of stars are also visible.

Airglow July 14


(Image credit: NASA)

One of the members of the joint crews for STS-135 and ISS Expedition 28 exposed this image of Atlantis and its robot arm over Earth's horizon and its faint thin line of airglow, light this is emitted due to chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Live Science Staff
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