When retired Canadian Space Agency astronaut, Chris Hadfield, was aboard the International Space Station for the final time, he made the most of it.
From December 2012 to May 2013, Hadfield orbited Earth 2,597 times and took nearly 45,000 photographs of Earth from the International Space Station. His Twitter stream of photos catapulted him to popularity — he now has more than a million followers.
Hadfield compiled some of his favourite photographs in his new book “You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.“
In the book’s introduction he writes about Earth: “You are here — we all are — for life. Let’s get to know the place a little better.” With these stunning images he captured of our planet, you can.
This incredible image depicts clouds twisting into a clockwise, rotating vortex near Africa, Chile in South America, which Hadfield describes as a 'a continent of repeating patterns and exaggerated contradictions.' The distinct swirls form when currents in the cold Pacific Ocean combine with atmospheric winds. The vortex rotates clockwise because it's in the southern hemisphere.
'The human impulse to impose order on Nature is apparent everywhere in North America,' Hadfield writes. Here, he shows a stretch of the Detroit River separating Detroit, Michigan on the right from Ontario, Canada on the left.
The Great Salt Lake in Utah is the largest saline lake in the western hemisphere. 'No perspective is more radically different than the one you get when you leave the planet altogether and look back,' Hadfield writes. And this is certainly true here, where you can see some of the saltiest parts of the lake in red where brine shrimp are raised and magnesium-chloride brine is extracted to produce magnesium metal.
'On a clear day you can see forever (or at least from Havana to Washington, D.C.),' Hadfield explains. The large stretch of land just above and to the left of the image's center is the state of Florida.
'I was struck...by the fact that some of the most ravaged and forbidding landscapes on Earth are so incredibly beautiful from space,' Hadfield writes about the Asian continent. Here is a picture of the Tibet Autonomous Region located on the Tibet Plateu -- the highest region on Earth. Despite being the second-largest province-level division of China, the Tibet Autonomous Region has the smallest population in China because of its harsh environment at an elevation of 15,000 feet.
The peninsula, pictured here, is none other than the buzzing American city of Manhattan. Home to over 1.6 million people, Manhattan is known as the city that never sleeps. And it certainly lives up to its nickname in this comparison showing Manhattan at 9:23 am on the left and 3:45 am on the right.
Due to its circular shape, the Richat Structure was first thought to be the result of a massive asteroid impact, but further investigations of its chemistry showed that it's more likely a 25-mile-wide dome, a naturally occurring protrusion in Earth's surface, located in the vast Sahara desert. 'If you've been busy doing experiments and haven't looked out the window for a while ... this bull's-eye orients you, instantly,' Hadfield writes.
For 70 years, the municipality of Pereira Barreto, pictured here, in Sao Paulo, Brazil was a center for coffee and sugar plantations that thrived along the Rio Tiete river. But in the 1990s, the state dammed the river to create a hydroelectric power plant, flooding most of the farms in the process. Hadfield compares the river's appearance, with its tiny offshoots, to a millipede.
Hadfields point out something very interesting in this image of San Francisco. 'Much of the densely built-up waterfront around San Francisco sits on landfill ... (which during an earthquake) behaves like a liquid, shaking far more severely, and is more likely to give way altogether.' He writes that this area has a 63% chance of undergoing an earthquake of 6.7 magnitude or larger in the next 30 years. The Fukushima earthquake that struck in April, 2011 was a 6.6 magnitude.
'Europe's multiple personalities, apparent even 240 miles above Earth, were shaped by the whims of geology and climate -- but also because of millennia of cultivation by different groups of humans with evolving ideas about how to make the most of a relatively small continent,' Hadfield writes. Here, he takes a wide shot of northeast Italy that includes one of the most bizarre cities in the world: Venice. It's the reddish island resembling a chicken drumstick located just left of center.
Here, you see the two cities of Cairo on the left and Jerusalem toward the right at night. Hadfield describes the cities along the Nile as a '4,258-mile braid of human life.' We leave you with this profound Hadfield quote in the book's introduction: 'We are small, so much smaller even than we may have thought. To me, that's not a frightening idea. It's a helpful corrective to the frantic self-importance we are prone to as a species - and also a reminder to make the most of our moment on this beautiful, strange, durable yet fragile planet.'
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