Houston, Texas, is about to become the center of the football universe.
Since September 2016, professional U.S. football teams have been vying to advance to the annual championship game. Two out of 32 teams remain, and on February 5, 2017, the New England Patriots will line up against the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium for Super Bowl LI (51). It marks the third time that the National Football League has selected Houston to host the event.
The city lights of Houston, including the stadium, are visible in this photograph shot by an astronaut on August 9, 2014. At the time, the stadium had just recently been renamed NRG (previously Reliant). The names reflect the major role of energy resource industries in the city. Stadium lights will still shine even after a Super Bowl winner has been declared. The NFL’s Houston Texans play there, and it is the site of other sporting events, concerts, and a rodeo.
Lights also shine from Johnson Space Center, a permanent hub of NASA’s universe. On February 1, 2017, two American astronauts on the International Space Station called down to Johnson to welcome fans to Super Bowl festivities.
Elsewhere around the city, lights are especially noticeable along the Buffalo Bayou, which flows east through the city to Galveston Bay. The waterway is Houston’s main drainage corridor, and has played an important role in the city’s industrial and economic growth. The river itself is barely visible in this image; it is primarily discernable by the absence of light between dense clusters of light from refineries and other industrial sites along the shoreline.
City lights also reveal the geometric patterns of the city’s roadways. Beltway 8 rings the city with 134 kilometers (83 miles) of pavement. Interstate 610 is the smaller loop that passes just south of NRG stadium. Major roads radiate like spokes from the central Houston, connecting the patchwork of business districts with urban and suburban areas.
Astronaut photograph ISS040-E-90959 was acquired on August 9, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 200 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 40 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and 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 Kathryn Hansen.
Taken on February 28, 2010, this astronaut photograph shows Houston at
night. Different land uses appear at varying levels of brightness, with bright lights in Houston proper, and no lights in undeveloped areas.