The Place Where Earth from Space Looks Like a Floating Piece of Cardboard

by Nancy Atkinson on June 24, 2014

Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter

An image taken from the International Space Station taken on Jun 23, 2014 showing Western Sahara , near El Aaiun. Credit: Reid Wiseman/NASA.

An image taken from the International Space Station taken on Jun 23, 2014 showing Western Sahara , near El Aaiun. Credit: Reid Wiseman/NASA.

As we’ve noted before, astronaut Reid Wiseman is sending out a bevy of tweets and pictures from his perch on board the International Space Station, but this recent image got our attention.

“Can’t explain it, just looked oddly unnatural to me and I liked it,” Wiseman said on Twitter, leaving no info on what Earthly feature might be.

Floating cardboard? That’s what many people thought. Comments from Twitter:

So what is this image and where on Earth is it?

I checked with Peter Caltner, who regularly tweets information on astronaut photos and he said the image shows Western Sahara, near El Aaiun (coordinates 26.824071,-13.222504) and the straight white line is a conveyor belt facility from a phosphate mine at Bou Craa that goes to a loading port at the coast. The conveyer belt is about 60 miles/100 km long, Peter noted.

You can see more images of this feature in this Google search, but none of them have quite the angle Wiseman had, which gave it the straight-edge box-like appearance from space.

See more comments about the image here.

Thanks again to Peter Caltner for his assistance!

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Previous post:

Next post: