Mostly everyone wanted to leave planet Earth in 2020, but only a few people actually could: astronauts. While the world below was in a state of chaos, these rocket men and women were able to capture some of the world's most beautiful images from above. And NASA just released its top 20 photos taken by the astronauts onboard the International Space Station during 2020.
"The men and women who live and work on the International Space Station take thousands of photographs of their home planet every year," NASA said in a statement. "And we asked the folks at the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA's Johnson Space Center for a few of their favorites from 2020."
Some of the stunning examples include an image of Cuba and beyond taken by an astronaut from inside the Cupola on the International Space Station. You see multiple shades of blue of the Caribbean and Atlantic that surround the area from Jamaica to southern Florida. A similar image of Corsica and Sardinia reveals the multi-toned Mediterranean Sea and whimsical cloud cover.
As far as more urban photos go, an image of Paris at night is breathtaking. The lights pop against the dark background making the picture appear almost like a map. Meanwhile, a photo of Ottawa, Canada, captured in the fall, shows off the leaves' vibrant colors changing around the edge of the city.
The images were all captured with a Nikon D4 or Nikon D5 using various focal lengths to create unique perspectives.
Of course, these are just a few of the many awe-inspiring images captured by astronauts. You can scour through many more on the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth website. Or, check out individual astronaut uploads like those from current ISS resident Soichi Noguchi who joined the crew late last year.
Not only do these images mark another year in space, but the organization also celebrated its 20th year of continuous human presence on the ISS. During that time, 242 people have been on board and conducted more than 3,000 science experiments.