NASA astronaut sees her parents' birth country from space. 'This may be the closest I will ever get'

a sandy and far overhead view of land with water on the left
NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, whose family is from Iran, took pictures of the country from the International Space Station and shared them on Nov. 17, 2023. (Image credit: NASA/Jasmin Moghbeli/X)

An astronaut with heritage from Iran spotted her parents' homeland from space.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli photographed Iran from the International Space Station (ISS) and shared the experience on X, formerly Twitter. While she has been in space for three months with SpaceX Crew-7, weather and her busy ISS schedule made it difficult to see Tehran before now.

"Finally, everything aligned and I was able to capture some decent photos. Our orbit had us passing almost directly overhead," Moghbeli posted on Friday (Nov. 17). "This may be the closest I will ever get to where my parents were born and raised," she added.

Related: NASA astronauts complete 4th-ever all-female spacewalk outside International Space Station

Moghbeli was born in Bad Nauheim, Germany in 1983 but considers Baldwin, New York her hometown, her NASA biography states. Her parents arrived in Germany in 1979 after fleeing Iran, the New Yorker stated in 2017. Moghbeli's family then immigrated to the United States.

Moghbeli's parents left Iran during the Iranian Revolution. That was the series of events in 1978-79 that deposed the former Iranian monarchy with a declared "Islamic republic" that enforced conservative social values while suppressing intellectuals, nationalists and left-wing individuals, according to Britannica. Women's rights plummeted as state-sanctioned violence arose, and the same government and social structure persists today.

Moghbeli added she spoke recently to her parents, who now reside in Texas, about the photos of Iran. "It was at least fun to message with them, and plot out the different places they had lived growing up — and in their early days together — on a photograph that I had taken."

It has been a busy month for Moghbeli. She participated in the fourth-ever all-woman spacewalk Nov. 1 — alongside fellow NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara — to replace solar array equipment. Experiments have filled her time in the weeks since.

The women teamed up again in the ISS on Thursday (Nov. 16), NASA officials wrote on the agency's space station blog, to remove hardware from an airlock in the U.S. Tranquility module. That new work will make room for a Nanoracks external platform that will expose a series of experiments to space.

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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: