TIME photo essay

Our Beautiful Planet: Images from Space by an Astronaut Photographer

LightBox presents a beautiful collection of photos of the Earth taken during European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli's Soyuz mission to the International Space Station.

European Space Agency Astronaut Paolo Nespoli — who first traveled to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2007 — photographed a unique and stunning image of the space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station on a recent Soyuz mission.

During a 159-day mission aboard the International Space Station, Nespoli managed to find time, despite his full schedule of duties, to capture footage for a documentary film, First Orbit. Combining historic voice recordings of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned spaceflight, the documentary charts the view that Gagarin saw during his historic mission.

In addition to this footage, Nespoli also took many still images of Earth. LightBox presents a selection of these photos that show our planet as a beautiful abstract canvas.

(PHOTOS: Mission to Saturn: Beauty from the Final Frontier)

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