Two images of Earth captured from the International Space Station (ISS) look more like works of art than real landscapes.
The beautiful photos were taken in recent days by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer at an altitude of 250 miles.
“I took these colorful photos of the Arabian Peninsula, but I also wonder what those shapes and lines are in the desert,” Maurer wrote in a tweet accompanying images, below.
Several people were quick to respond that the dark line across the top image appears to show the border area between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a suggestion supported by a quick glance at the area on Google Earth.
The striking rusty reds in the second image, by contrast, appear to be part of the ad-Dahna desert near the Saudi city of Buraydah, about 200 miles northwest of the capital, Riyadh.
With the space station orbiting Earth approximately every 90 minutes, the ever-changing landscape provides plenty of incredible photo opportunities for astronauts to take advantage of during their downtime.
Most photos of Earth are taken from the Cupola, the orbiting outpost’s seven-window module that offers panoramic views of our planet and beyond.
Astronauts have a choice of professional Nikon cameras and telephoto lenses for their space photography sessions, with the best photos shared on NASA and ESA’s various social media channels.
Thomas Pesquet, a recent resident of the space station, also posted some incredible snaps of Earth during his six-month stay in space. The French astronaut revealed the extra work he put in to give himself the best chance of capturing the best images.
Want to know more about daily life on the space station? Then watch these insightful videos made by visiting astronauts over the years.