Two images of Earth captured from the International Space Station (ISS) look more like works of art than real landscapes.
The beautiful photos were taken in recent days by European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer from 250 miles up.
“I took these colorful pictures of the Arabian Peninsula, but I also wonder what these shapes and lines in the desert are,” Maurer wrote in a tweet accompanying the images, shown below.
Several people were quick to reply that the dark line running across the top image appears to show the border zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a suggestion backed up by a quick look at the area on Google Earth.
The striking rusty reds in the second image, on the other hand, appear to be part of the ad-Dahna desert close to the Saudi Arabian city of Buraydah, some 200 miles north-west of the capital, Riyadh.
With the space station orbiting Earth every 90 minutes or so, the constantly changing scenery presents plenty of amazing photo opportunities for astronauts to take advantage of during their downtime.
Most of the Earth photos are taken from the Cupola, the orbiting outpost’s seven-window module that provides panoramic views of our planet and beyond.
Astronauts have the pick of professional Nikon cameras and telephoto lenses for their space-based photography sessions, with the best photos shared on NASA and ESA’s various social media channels.
Recent space station inhabitant Thomas Pesquet also posted some incredible Earth shots during his six-month stint in space. The French astronaut revealed the extra work that he put in to give himself the best chance of grabbing the best images.
Interested to find out more about daily life on the space station? Then check out these insightful videos made by visiting astronauts over the years.