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The Grand Canyon Is Extra Grand in This Stunning Student Photo from Space

Grand Canyon by the Sally Ride EarthKAM
Middle school students captured this spectacular photo of the Grand Canyon from space using the internet-operated Sally Ride EarthKAM on the International Space Station on April 3, 2017. NASA showcased the image on May 30. (Image credit: Sally Ride EarthKAM)

The spectacular Grand Canyon reigns below wispy clouds in a new jaw-dropping view from the International Space Station (ISS).

This image was captured by the student-controlled Sally Ride EarthKAM camera on the ISS. The camera is named after the late NASA astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who initiated the development of a predecessor program, called KidSat. (Ride died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer.) [Amazing Photos of U.S. National Parks from Space]

"The Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (Sally Ride EarthKAM) program provides a unique educational opportunity for thousands of students multiple times a year," NASA officials wrote in an image description. "EarthKAM is an international award-winning education program, allowing students to photograph and analyze our planet from the perspective of the International Space Station." 

To operate EarthKAM, students use a web-based interface to remotely control a digital camera on the space station. That allows them to photograph the coastlines, mountain ranges and other interesting geographical features of Earth, NASA officials said.

EarthKAM has been in operation since the first mission to the space station, Expedition 1, in 2000. It is used for about four missions per year. The next program, Mission 58, begins this fall. Middle school teachers and students who are interested in participating in the program can apply via the EarthKAM website

The Grand Canyon awes tourists with its immense size. It is about 277 miles (446 kilometers) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and 1 mile (1.6 km) deep, according to the U.S. National Park Service. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.