This photograph was taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station during a rare clear day over Ireland and the United Kingdom. The wide angle captures the contrasting colors of the two islands’ various land cover types.
The western edge of Ireland is bounded by coastal mountains and rough terrain, making the peninsulas appear browner than the more vegetated (green) areas of central Ireland. The central region is made up of plains with bogs and hilly lowlands, with a mix of forests, agriculture, and pastures. Similar green tones can be found on the western side of the United Kingdom.
Many of the tanned areas on the east coast of the United Kingdom are in a rain shadow cast by the uplands and mountains to the west. Weather systems move from west to east, and higher elevation areas in the west receive more rain than lower elevation areas in the east. When this image was taken in summer 2022, the vegetation was stressed due to high temperatures and drought conditions, resulting in the tan color.
Cities are visible as dark-gray and white areas on both islands. The spatially extensive urban and suburban colors around London, Birmingham, and Manchester indicate that Great Britain has the highest population density in the region.
More than 78,200 square kilometers (30,200 square miles) of land on both islands (24 percent) is dedicated to conservation. These areas protect over 10,000 habitats used by flora and fauna such as wildfowl, bats, and mosses for breeding, migration, and shelter.
Astronaut photograph ISS067-E-253753 was acquired on August 11, 2022, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 17 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 67 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Sara Schmidt, GeoControl Systems, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.