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Three awesome Earth photos captured from space this week

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been showing off their photographic skills again, with three crew members this week posting eye-catching images of Earth.

First up is this stunning effort from Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut who’s made quite a name for himself as one of the top space-based photographers of recent times.

A part of Australia captured from the space station.
Thomas Pesquet/ESA

The beautiful photo resembles an oil painting and, at a stretch, gives us an idea of what van Gogh might have come up with had he had the chance to take his brush and palette knife into orbit.

Pesquet captured the image earlier this week as the space station passed over Australia at an altitude of 250 miles, though the astronaut doesn’t say what part of the country it shows.

Next we have this fabulous aerial view of San Francisco that was posted by NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, with the city’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge easy to spot near the center of the shot.

San Francisco as seen from the space station.
Megan McArthur/NASA

McArthur’s image also shows the Gulf of the Farallones, San Francisco Bay, the city itself, and, if you look toward the bottom of the image, Alcatraz Island.

McArthur tweeted the photo with birthday greetings for the Golden Gate National Park Service, which this week turned 49.

Finally, check out this surreal image shared by NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough.

U.S. farmland captured from the space station.
Shane Kimbrough/NASA

No, it’s not a scattering of giant CDs or some unexplained crop-circle phenomenon.

Rather, it’s a patch of U.S. farmland that uses a sprinkler system that rotates around a central point. The process, known as “center pivot irrigation,” eventually leads to circular fields of crops like the ones shown here. Pesquet captured a similar image earlier this year when the space station passed over Saudi Arabia.

Despite the enviable vantage point high above Earth, it’s not as easy as you might think to capture striking images from the space station. The astronauts are busy conducting science experiments or working on other tasks during most of their time aboard the ISS, and so they only have limited opportunities to peer out of the window with a camera in hand. Pesquet recently revealed the preparation and research that he undertakes to give him the best chance of snapping amazing pictures during his time aboard the station.

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