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What Does Chicagoland Look Like From Space?

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 9:02 a.m. CST

By Sally Deneen

NASA Astronaut Thomas Marshburn gazed out a window of Soyuz TMA-07M during a work break and saw the sprawling city directly below, so he snapped what would become one of a handful of metro Chicago photos that his team would post on Twitter during their 2,336 orbits of the Earth covering almost 62 million miles.

"Chicago, a bright spot on the tip of Lake Michigan, glowing through the clouds," reads the caption of a more dramatic image also captured in the spring by his colleague on the mission, Canadian astronaut and International Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield.

The pair shot many photos from around the world that you now can view on an interactive website called "Our World From The ISS." One Chicago image shows the city in drab gray color tones, or as Hadfield put it: "Chicago on a clear winter's day, ice on shore, busy O'Hare airport visible from orbit."

Salt Lake City as seen from space, by contrast, features a vast expanse of snow and craggy bulges that surround the great lake from which the city draws its name. Detroit as seen from space at night appears as spider webs of light expanding from dark Lake Michigan.

While the team ended its mission last spring, newly retired Hadfield couldn't help but shoot an aerial photo of Chicago when he visited in November for a book tour of "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth."

The region again appears gray, with Chicago O'Hare International Airport prominent.

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