Astronaut Photography – Your access to stunning views from space

Astronauts have busy schedules in space – system operations, maintenance, repairs, science experiments – but did you know they also acquire hundreds of photos during each mission?

Reid Wiseman , Astronaut Photography

From stunning views of Earth’s natural features to glimpses of your favorite city at night, and from pure artistry to applied science, these photos offer a remarkable perspective of our planet’s surface as well as a valuable historical record of how and where our planet is changing.

There are now two great resources available for viewing this photography:

Both websites provide access to thousands of photos, are free to use, allow users to search photos or browse by category, and even provide options to download images for your own use (but be sure to read through the conditions of use on both websites).

We’ve spent countless hours browsing through these stunning image collections, and encourage you to take a look for yourself.

We hope you enjoy!

Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

“The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth hosts the best and most complete online collection of astronaut photographs of the Earth from 1961 through the present. This service is provided by the International Space Station program and the JSC Earth Science & Remote Sensing Unit, ARES Division, Exploration Integration Science Directorate.” –

Windows on Earth

“Windows on Earth is an educational project that features photographs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station.  Astronauts take hundreds of photos each day, for science research, education and public outreach.  The photos are often dramatic, and help us all appreciate home planet Earth. The site is operated by TERC, an educational non-profit, in collaboration with the Association of Space Explorers (the professional association of flown astronauts and cosmonauts), the Virtual High School, and CASIS (Center for Advancement of Science in Space).” –

Windows on Earth featured


High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) – An HD video experiment on the International Space Station

I want to understand our world better. Seeing it from a different angle really helps, and no perspective is more radically different than the one you get when you leave the planet altogether and look back.” – Chris Hadfield, Astronaut

HDEV Earth horizon

What an amazing view it must be for astronauts to gaze down at Earth while in orbit. While there’s certainly nothing like being there in person, and while photos and recorded video provide some indication of the view, now there’s a way to gain your own insight and better experience what the astronauts see while looking out the window.

The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment, which has been active since April 2014, streams live high definition video 24/7 from the International Space Station (ISS) to your computer or mobile device.

HDEV includes four different standard commercial video cameras mounted on the External Payload Facility of the Columbus module on the ISS, one camera facing forward, one pointing straight down, and two facing aft. The objective of the HDEV mission is principally to test the ability and performance of such cameras to operate and survive in the harsh space environment. Results from this experiment will provide an indication of the durability of commercially available cameras for use in future space missions.

But there’s more to this video than just an engineering experiment and an astounding view from space. Such video has both scientific and commercial value with respect to the geospatial information that can be derived from the imagery. In fact, coming soon from technology company Urthecast will be Ultra-HD video from the ISS, with one meter ground resolution, that will be available for viewing and analysis through both free and premium services.

In the meantime, while the HDEV experiment is being conducted, live streaming video from the HDEV cameras is available on Ustream:

HDEV Ustream video

As an alternative, to simultaneously see the HDEV video in combination with a live map of where the ISS is currently located, visit the HDEV viewing portal at the NASA JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

Also, don’t worry if the video feed is black or not available at first. There’s a periodic lapse in video as HDEV automatically cycles between the different cameras, there’s no video when the ISS is on the night side of the Earth, and sometimes there’s simply a temporary loss of signal.

But the view is worth the wait.