Astronaut's View of the Rocky Mountains from Space Is Just Amazing

Rocky Mountains
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet captured this photo of the Rocky Mountains from the International Space Station on Dec. 25, 2016. (Image credit: ESA/NASA)

French astronaut Thomas Pesquet just took "Rocky Mountain High" to a whole new level.

The European Space Agency astronaut took this incredible photo of the Rocky Mountains from 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the Earth at his post aboard the International Space Station.

With snow-capped peaks as tall as 2.7 miles (4.4 km), the massive North American mountain range slices straight through a blanket of clouds. "The Rocky Mountains are a step too high – even for the clouds to cross," Pesquet tweeted about the photo. [See More of Thomas Pesquet's Amazing Space Photos]

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These low- to midlevel clouds appear to be of the stratus variety, forming smooth and relatively featureless sheets of dense cloud coverage at altitudes that don't quite match the height of the mountain range. Low-level stratus clouds form below altitudes of 1.2 miles (2 km), while midlevel altostratus clouds can form at up to 3.8 miles (6 km) above the Earth, according to the National Weather Service.

Pesquet, a first-time space flier who arrived at the space station in November, seems to have found a new hobby in space photography, taking photos of Earth from space and sharing them on social media almost daily.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.