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

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!

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at and and Instagram at and

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