The photograph depicts complex cloud formations over the Senegal–Mali border, Africa. Cumulonimbus clouds like these can tower more than ten miles high in the tropics, only flattening, as in the image, when they reach the tropopause—the border between the troposphere, the lowest and densest part of Earth’s atmosphere, and the high-altitude stratosphere. It is a mosaic composite photograph based on raw frames taken by the ISS 016 Crew, February 5, 2008.
About Michael Benson
With a career encompassing photography, filmmaking, and writing, Michael Benson takes us into outer space with his awe-inspiring composite images of the sun, moons, planets, and stars. Over the course of his diverse career, he has photographed and written about subjects ranging from Russian underground rock music to Slovenian avant-garde art, while maintaining a passion for space exploration. This has fueled four books and numerous exhibitions of his earth-based interstellar work. His images—including planetscapes and Saturn’s rings—are cobbled together from raw photographs gathered on NASA and European Space Agency explorations. For Benson, these images merge art, science, and photographic technology. “From the beginning, I’ve wanted to show work that would argue that the visual legacy of 50 years of interplanetary science constitutes an important chapter in the history of photography,” he explains.
American, b. 1962