Pretty lines of light by European Space Agency Via Flickr: This image was taken by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from the International Space Station. She commented: “Forgot where I took this picture. Very distinct pretty lines of light – looks familiar to anyone? #HelpRequired”
Astronauts can set their cameras to take pictures automatically while they work on experiments, so they do not always know themselves – and computer programmes cannot help.
Helping astronauts find what they photographed can be fun but it also helps researchers investigating light pollution – unnecessary lights that shine upwards instead of guiding our way at night.
A large database of pictures of cities at night taken from above offers a wealth of information if correctly identified. Researchers can chart the development of street lighting over time and compare it with other sources of information such as energy consumption or populations of night animals.
Find out how you can help and improve your geography knowledge with the Cities at Night project.
This image has been identified as Damman in Saudi Arabia. The King Abdulaziz Seaport extending into the Perisan Gulf top-right is a distinctive clue.
Follow Samantha for more wonderful images of Earth and space via samanthacristoforetti.esa.int