Astronaut’s Photos From the ISS Make Earth Look Like a Painting

Matthias Maurer Astronaut Photo

European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer has published a pair of photos of the Arabian Peninsula as seen from the International Space Station, revealing colors and lines that look akin to brush strokes on a painting.

A Unique Perspective of the Arabian Peninsula

Maurer is a German astronaut who joined the ESA in July of 2015. He is undertaking his first mission for the International Space Station (ISS) known as Cosmic Kiss. He is the second ESA astronaut to fly under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and was launched on November 11, 2021, from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, as part of SpaceX Crew-3, alongside NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Kayla Barron.

While he’s been in the ESA system in various capacities since 2008, Maurer says he also enjoys photography and has taken the opportunity of being in orbit above Earth to capture photos of the planet from a perspective few get to enjoy. While many of his photos are without EXIF data, the ones that do include some information as shown on Flickr indicate he’s shooting with a Nikon D5.

Two of his most recent uploads take a look at the Arabian Peninsula which, when viewed from his point of view, have wide sweeping lines that resemble brush strokes across a vast and colorful landscape.

Credit: ESA/NASA-M. Maurer
Credit: ESA/NASA-M. Maurer

“Seen from above, our Earth looks like a true work of art,” Maurer writes on Twitter. “I took these colorful pictures of the Arabian Peninsula, but I also wonder what these shapes and lines in the desert are.”

When astronaut Thomas Pesquet — who photographed the planet over a quarter of a million times during his time in space — returned to Earth from the ISS, there was a lull in photos taken from the space station.

But Maurer appears more than capable of continuing to expertly document the planet, and it is likely more beautiful aerial scenes will be shared throughout mission Cosmic Kiss.

Mission Cosmic Kiss

Cosmic Kiss is the name of the mission assigned to Maurer where he will supervise and carry out 36 German and more than 100 international experiments on the ISS. According to DLR, these experiments will range from fundamental research to application-oriented science in fields such as life sciences, materials science, physics, biology, medicine, and Earth observation. Detailed information about some of the specific experiments can be found on the German Aerospace Center’s website.