The Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft captured several stunning images of Earth during a gravity assist swingby of its home planet on Aug. 2, 2005. One pictures, snapped when MESSENGER was 34,692 miles (55,831 kilometers) above Earth, shows the Galapagos Islands as tiny specks peeking through an opening in clouds of the brightly lit dayside of the planet. The line dividing day and night cuts a swath through South America, with night about to fall on the western half of the continent. The large bright spot to the west of South America is the Sun's light scattering off ocean waves.
for a diagram and close-up of the islands.
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Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
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