Remnants from Iraq-Iran war seen from space

The International Space Station (ISS) has been picking up images of earth, and particularly of the war torn border between Iraq and Iran.

The images show defence sites and gun placements on the southern border between Iraq and Iran, just north of Kuwait.

Iran and Iraq went to war with each other in 1980 due to ongoing border disagreements. The Iraq-Iran war lasted for eight years.

The image was taken by an astronaut on space Expedition 41 at the end of 2014. At first researchers thought the image showed oil works and facilities, but when they looked closer the researchers realised it was military fortifications.

Since the ISS became a permanent feature in space in 2000, it has enabled the photographing of many war scenes on earth.

Astronauts watched from above in 2001 when the twin towers were attacked in New York. They could see the smoke coming from New York.

In 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko could see the conflict and took many pictures.

In 2014 when Israel and Gaza took military action against each other, astronaut Alexander Gerst could see rockets and guns lighting up the sky beneath him.

Six crew were aboard the ISS when the Iraq-Iran border image was taken, including a Russian, an American and a German. Their mission was to conduct research into remote sensing, manufacturing and studies of human bone and muscle in space. They completed 82 hours of research in one week alone, a new record for the space station, the Mail Online reports.

Human health management was their key focus since two crew members are preparing to spend one year on the space station from spring 2015.

The team took five cargo shipments from spacecraft during their trip, which delivered tonnes of much needed supplies.

The space station also acts as a test centre for new technologies: the first 3-D printer was tested at the space station. The RapidScat was also installed on the station to improve monitoring and prediction of weather patterns on earth.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE