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Using the Site


Windows on Earth receives a direct image feed from NASA of all released photos taken by the astronauts on the International Space Station. We manually tag a small percentage of these with information such as subject of the photo and type of feature(s) seen in the photo. We also automatically tag the photos with the location of the ISS when the photo was taken - note that since the photo may be taken at an angle, the actual location can be anywhere within several hundred miles of the ISS location.

When viewing a photo click on the “i” symbol at the bottom right to get camera info and where the ISS was when the photo was shot. You can also use the “share” button (the up arrow) to share on social media or download the image at full size by click on the down arrow. We’ve also worked to add captions to a number of the images, particularly in “Best New,” but this is only a small percentage of the total. The current collection is over 1.5 million photos and we have a backlog of over 500,000 to work through!


The site is organized as follows:

Best New - our “favorites” for the best/most interesting photos we receive from the ISS.

Astronauts - curated collections for a number of ISS astronauts, in many cases based on the images they tweeted out while in space.

Features - collections of images around a specific theme or event, usually hand-picked and non-geographic based.

Collections - collections of images around a particular geographic feature or earth science theme; collections show you all the images with that tag, not just favorites.

Regions - favorite photos organized on a map by geographic region. Click on a pin to expand, and then click on the image to be taken directly to it.

Past Favs - favorite photos organized by ISS Expeditions.

Mystery Image Interactive - an interactive educational exercise of identifying and exploring images.

Movies - a link to our YouTube channel of “movies." ISS astronauts often setup a camera to shoot roughly 2 images per second out an ISS window and we assemble select photo sequences into movies.

Cupola Sim - a simulation of the view out the cupola windows of the ISS.

Search - a way to search by tag/keyword. We don’t offer a list of the keywords - it would be very long - but entering something like a common location name or a feature like “estuary” will turn up matching photos. The site automatically adds the keyword “WinEarthFav” as some searches could turn up tens of thousands of images and that keyword limits the search to better images! If you really are looking for a large set, manually remove the “WinEarthFav” keyword after your initial search and click "Search" once again.

About - a little about us and our partners.

Other Resources

Perspectives on Earth  - Educational materials on a range of images from our partner the McAuliffe Center at Framingham State.

NASA Earth Observatory - NASA's official image site.

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