An astronaut took this photograph of Mexico’s busiest port—Manzanillo—from the International Space Station. The port handles cargo for Mexico City, which is 600 kilometers (400 miles) to the east. With a population of 185,000 people, the city spreads along a complex coastline. Numerous tourist hotels situated along a curved sand spit dot the seafront and the main beach.
The harbor zone near the city center is protected by sea walls, and the larger harbor zone is protected by another sand spit. This is the main commercial harbor, and it also hosts ships from Mexico’s naval fleet. An artificial channel gives sea access, and the bay’s shoreline is heavily engineered for port functions.
A power station occupies one end of one of the sand spits. A railroad causeway has been built over the water of Laguna Cuyutlán around the inner shorelines of the lake to supply the power station with fuel. A detailed version of the image shows two lines of power transmission pylons that angle from the power station inland across the lake.
This image was taken looking near the Sun’s reflection point, or “glint point,” so it reveals several ocean features. Broad curves show ocean swells moving onshore. The bright filaments may be surfactants from biogenic oils, and perhaps also from bilge pumping from the numerous oil tankers that use the port. Ships often anchor in the bay near the harbor, waiting to discharge or take on cargo.
Astronaut photograph ISS051-E-12590 was acquired on April 11, 2017, with a Nikon D4 digital camera using a 1150 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 51 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 Justin Wilkinson, Texas State University, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.