7 of the finest images from Earth’s orbit

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Luminous blue phytoplankton blooming in the Norwegian Sea, and textures of rich brown sediment flowing into the Arabian Ocean, are just some of the images captured by satellites orbiting the Earth in recent months.

Here are some of the best images taken from the Earth’s orbit by NASA satellites and astronauts.

This image of phytoplankton blooming in green swirls in the blue Caspian Sea was captured by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the space agency’s Aqua satellite this month.

Lake Urmia to the west appears as a spot of rust as microorganisms react with the lake’s salt water to turn the surface a deep shade of orange.

Another phytoplankton bloom – this time pictured off the northwest coast of Norway using the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite.
The milky-blue color in the coastal waters suggests the bloom contains coccolithophores, a type of microscopic plankton who are from white calcium carbonate.

The Mackenzie is the second largest river in North America after the Mississippi. Every year, a surge of fresh water comes down river following the ice and snow melts in the highlands, bringing with it huge amounts of sediment moving in textured swathes in to the Beaufort Sea, as seen above.
Pictured by the OLI in July, the Mackenzie River pushes this material out into the open ocean as the season progresses.

Astronaut Jack Fisher published this photograph to his Twitter feed from aboard the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday.
It shows the Zambesi and Cuando rivers meeting at night at a juncture of the borders between Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Fisher captioned the picture: “If you get the angle just right… it makes a river look like it’s on fire. Now that’s just cool.”

Another from Fisher. The astronaut captures the tropical blue and green. Also of the Red Sea near Egypt’s Elba National Park from the observation pod of the ISS.

This image is again captured aboard the ISS one of NASA satellites. It shows the mosaic pattern of solar evaporation ponds outside the city of Moab in Utah. The surreal ponds are across 400 acres of arid, rocky landscape. They are in use in an operation to mine muriate of potash (MOP), a kind of fertilizer.
The colored ponds represent different stages of evaporation. The bluest waters are in the early stages, while the tan colored pools. Also they are almost dry and full of salt crystals which are ready for collection. The effect is that of a mosaic or stained glass.

Pictured on Pakistan’s Makron Coast in May, a rush of sediment into the Arabian Sea is captured by the OLI.
After heavy rain, the nearby Hangol River carries sediment in to the sea. Where the current sweeps it along the shore. Then, it meets a dip in the underwater terrain, resulting in a swirl effect.