An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photo while orbiting over Thailand and Malaysia. This region of the world is not often photographed from space due to persistent clouds. While still cloudy, this view offers a rare peek at both coasts of the Malay Peninsula.
This photo was taken near the end of Malaysia's northeast monsoon season (November to March). The oblique and panoramic view shows thin clouds and possibly small smoke plumes being blown from the northeast—typical of wind patterns for this time of year. Malaysia experiences a second monsoon season from May to September each year.
The Isthmus of Kra, at 70 kilometers (45 miles) wide, is the narrowest part of the peninsula that separates the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea. Looking toward Earth's limb, mainland Thailand is hardly distinguishable through the atmospheric haze, due in part to Southeast Asia's burning season. On the day this photo was taken, hundreds of fires were detected in the region by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite.