Moment of Wonder: The Great Barrier Reef from Space


The view of the Great Barrier Reef from the International Space Station.

NASA has posted this stunning shot of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef taken from the International Space Station.

The area covered in the photograph spans 10 miles of the 1,700-mile Great Barrier, the largest reef system on Earth. The system is composed of 3,000 separate reefs and coral cays and supports hundreds of types of corals and thousands of animal species. Only three reefs are visible in the picture above — and as you can probably guess, those cottony white things are clouds.

According to NASA, reef systems’ shallow lagoons show up as iridescent blues from space and contrast sharply with the dark blues of deep water. That makes them relatively easy to spot and photograph from Earth’s orbit.

For the gearheads among you, the astronaut snapped this image on October 12, 2015, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using an 1150 millimeter lens.

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