February 1, 2011
Brasilia, Brazil at night time is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 26 crew member on the International Space Station. Whether seen at night or during the day, the capital city of Brazil is unmistakable from orbit. Brasilia is located on a plateau (the Planalto Central) in the west-central part of the country, and is widely considered to be one of the best examples of 20th century urban planning in the world. One of its most distinctive design features-as seen from above-suggests a bird, butterfly, or airplane traveling along a northwest-southeast direction, and is made dramatically visible by city light patterns (center left, directly to the west of Lake Paranoa). Following the establishment of Brasilia in the early 1960s informal settlements began to form around the original planned city. Ceilandia, located to the west of Brasilia, was one such informal settlement. In 1970 the settlement was formalized by the government and is now a satellite city of Brasilia with its own distinct urban identity. The developed areas of Brasilia and its satellite cities are clearly outlined by street grid and highway light patterns at night in this photograph taken from the space station. The large unlit region to the northwest of the city is the Brasilia National Park (lower left); other dark regions to the south and southwest contain agricultural fields and expanses of Cerrado tropical savanna.