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. 

Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: