China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts snap stunning photos of Earth, the moon and more

distant view of part of earth surrounded by fuzzy yellow line
Airglow above the Earth captured in an image taken by Chen Dong. (Image credit: CMSA)

China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts have been busy testing a new space station module, conducting spacewalks and carrying out experiments — but they've also found time to take some spectacular photos.

China's human spaceflight agency, CMSA, released the photographs taken by the astronauts aboard the Tiangong space station during their ongoing mission, which launched June 3.

Images taken by Cmdr. Chen Dong show one of the station's flexible solar arrays against a backdrop of nighttime cities shining from Earth below, and another photo captures the airglow above our planet that results when sunlight interacts with atoms and molecules in Earth's atmosphere.

Related: China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts mark busy 1st month aboard Tiangong space station

Liu Yang, whose previous mission to space back in 2012 made her China's first woman in orbit, also snapped some pictures, including one of a full moon above Earth. Photos taken by Cai Xuzhe on his first trip to space include an image of Hainan island, just off the Chinese mainland, from where the Tiangong modules launched, and a tomato plant sprouting aboard the station. 

Shenzhou 14 is the third crewed mission to Tiangong. During the first, Shenzhou 12, astronauts also returned stunning images.

The Shenzhou 14 crew is scheduled to receive a new visitor later this month, when the third and final module for Tiangong is launched. The Mengtian module will complete the planned T-shaped orbital outpost.

The crewmembers are expected to stay in orbit until sometime in December, when they will welcome the incoming Shenzhou 15 mission astronauts and carry out China's first-ever crew handover.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.