Australia from orbit

From December 19th last year, Chris Hadfield has been living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit roughly 400 km above planet Earth. Seeing 15 sunrises every day as the station tracks its way above our planet, the ISS, to quote Hadfield himself, “weighs 500 tonnes and is the size of 5 NHL hockey rinks, with living quarters for 6 people.”

One of the many things which Hadfield has been doing is to keep the tradition set by previous astronauts of taking fantastic photographs of our planet from above. In a Reddit AMA session a couple of months ago, he mentioned that Australia “looks the coolest” from orbit, being fond of the textures and colours of the Australian Outback. So here, for your visual pleasure, are some of the most beautiful pictures of Australia taken from high, high above by Chris Hadfield. Enjoy!

Adelaide by night

Adelaide by night, glittering like a jewel.


Outback from Orbit

“The Outback is full of scary faces, staring up in forbidding horror.”


Smoke clouds from the bush fires

Smoke clouds from the bush fires, as seen from above.


Coffin Bay

Coffin Bay national park.


Dry Lake Beds

Dry lakes in the Outback, including one which is being used for farming. Quite ingenious.


King George's Sound

King George’s Sound. Hadfield notes that “Charles Darwin got off the Beagle and hosted a dance here in February, 1836.”



Melbourne harbour.


Dry Lake in the Outback

Beautiful smeared colours of a dry lake bed.


Off the coast of Perth

The ocean off the coast of Perth. Evening sunlight catches the waves and ocean currents, making them visible.


Outback from Orbit

Jagged lines of the Outback.


Outback rock patterns

Folded rock formations created by tectonic activity in the Outback. Caught by the morning sunlight, they really stand out.


River Delta

A river delta, showing a host of gorgeous colours.


Dry Lake in the Outback

A big dry lake somewhere in the Outback.


Perth from Orbit

Beautiful blue seas off the Perth coast.


Outback from Orbit

“A lot of the Australian Outback looks like somebody spilled something on it.”


Sydney by night

The city lights of Sydney.


Ominous smoke cloud

An ominous looking smoke cloud in Western Australia.


Outback from Orbit

A shot of the Outback looking very much like a Jackson Pollock painting.


Floodwaters at Rockhampton

Floodwaters pouring into the Coral Sea near Rockhampton. You can see all the murky brown silt from the river as it disperses into the tides.


Outback from Orbit

“A splash of dry salt white on seared red in Australia’s agonizingly beautiful Outback.”


All images: NASA/Chris Hadfield

Cite this article:
Hammonds M (2013-04-23 07:19:17). Australia from orbit. Australian Science. Retrieved: May 24, 2024, from

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