A clearly visible line marks about 50 kilometers of the international border between Egypt and Israel in this astronaut photograph. The area shown lies between 10 to 60 kilometers (from left to right) from the Mediterranean Sea, which is beyond this image to the northwest. This image from the International Space Station shows the characteristic sand dune morphology of the region and the poor soils which mark the southern limit of agriculture.
The different colors of the land surface are the result of trampling by humans and their livestock. Trampling disturbs the dark-colored soil crusts on the Egyptian side of the border, allowing lighter-colored dune sand beneath the crusts to be exposed by winds. A road also follows the border, making the demarcation more prominent. A patch of the Gaza Strip appears under scattered clouds at extreme image left.
In the arid to semiarid climate of the region, the natural vegetation is mostly sparse shrubs. Irrigated commercial agriculture in Israel appears as a series of large angular patterns and circular center pivot fields, with darker greens indicating growing crops (image left). Smaller plots appear on the Egyptian side of the border at image lower left.
Astronaut photograph ISS029-E-37471 was acquired on November 3, 2011, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using a 200 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 29 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs/ESCG at NASA-JSC, with image interpretation help from Arnon Karnieli, Ben-Gurion University.