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Earth from Above: 101 Stunning Images from Orbit

Dreamy Trails!

clouds over pacific ocean captured by nasa satellite

(Image credit: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response)

The meandering, fluffy cloud trails captured by instruments aboard NASA's Aqua satellite on Jan. 15, 2013, blanketed the atmosphere above the eastern Pacific Ocean, southwest of Vancouver Island. Among the trails are thin man-made clouds created by ship exhaust, which sends particles into the atmosphere that can act as seeds for the accumulation of water vapor (and thus clouds).

That's a Big Blizzard!

Feb. 9 Nor'easter 'Nemo'

(Image credit: NASA/GOES Project)

A huge nor'easter dumped feet of snow over the Northeast over the weekend of Feb. 9, creating winter wonderlands from Massachusetts to New York. This picture of the storm (dubbed "Nemo" by The Weather Channel but not officially named by the National Weather Service) was taken by NOAA's GOES-13 satellite at 7:01 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Saturday.

Incoming Snow

Satellite image of March 6 storm

(Image credit: NASA-NOAA)

A major winter storm moves across the mid-Atlantic on March 6, 2013. Nicknamed "Saturn" by The Weather Channel and the "Snowquester" by inside-the-Beltway types, the storm dumped about a foot (30.48 cm) of snow in Front Royal, Va. and 17 inches (43 cm) in Blue Mountain, Va. The Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, on the other hand, was largely spared, with only a few inches accumulation.

Down By the Bay

Baytown, Texas from space

(Image credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Photojournal)

Baytown, Tex., home to the largest oil refinery in the United States, shows up in brilliant red in this image from NASA's Terra satellite. The instrument that snapped this image combines multiple wavelengths of light to represent water in blue, buildings and pavement in beige and gray and vegetation in red, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.

The refinery covers 5 square miles (13 square kilometers) near the mouth of the San Jacinto River (it stands out in beige here and continues on the south shore of the river).

Lovely Landscape

Colorado Plateau from space

(Image credit: NASA)

Colorado and the Southwest are known for beautiful views, but they look even more amazing from space. This astronaut snapshot from the International Space Station reveals the Colorado Plateau, made up of northern Arizona, southern Utah, northwestern New Mexico and southwestern Colorado. Here, the Colorado River crosses from east to west, meeting the San Juan River. (East is to the left in this photo, as the view is toward the south.)

Glittering Big Apple

New York City at night from space.

(Image credit: NASA)

New York, New York … The city that never sleeps shines into space at night in this snapshot taken by a member of the Expedition 35 crew on the International Space Station. Manhattan runs from left to right in the center of the frame, with Central Park visible as a dark rectangle in the center of the island.

Cracks in the Ice

Alaska sea ice fracturing

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

A spidery series of cracks mars the sea ice off the coast of Alaska in this picture taken by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. According to NASA Earth Observatory, a high-pressure system hovering over the region in late January brought warm temperatures and southwesterly winds, which in turn fueled ocean currents that fractured the ice. February storms later fueled the fracturing.

Deadly Storms

Satellite image of Moore storm and tornado

(Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team)

A line of deadly storms moves through Oklahoma in this image captured by NASA's MODIS satellite at 2:40 p.m. CDT on May 20, 2013. As this picture was taken, a deadly tornado, likely a F-4, was beginning its deadly journey through Moore, Okla., a suburb of Oklahoma City. Dozens were killed and entire neighborhoods devastated as the mile-wide funnel cloud touched down.

Space Station Sunrise

Sunrise over the South Pacific from orbit

(Image credit: NASA)

Sing along now: "It's just another ISS sunrise…" Okay, maybe the modified lyrics don't quite scan. Nevertheless, this image from the International Space Station captures the beauty of sunrise from space. This view is over the South Pacific, but astronauts aboard the ISS get plenty of chances to see the sun come up: Because of the speed of the vessel's orbit, they see a sunrise and sunset about every 45 minutes, or about 16 every 24 hours. This particular shot was taken on May 5, 2013.

Tornado's Scar

Tornado path in Moore Oklahoma

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory image created by Robert Simmon, using data provided courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and the U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption information courtesy Mike Carlowicz.)

The track of a deadly tornado streaks across the Oklahoma landscape in this satellite image of Oklahoma City. On May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado roared through Newcastle and Moore, suburbs of the city, killing at least 24 people and damaging or destroying about 13,000 homes and other buildings. NASA's Terra satellite observed the aftermath on June 2. In this false-color image, vegetation is red and buildings and pavement are blue-gray. The beige scar running through the image shows the tornado's path, now stripped of vegetation.