While the International Space Station orbited over the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 19, 2022, NASA astronaut Bob Hines captured this image of South Padre Island, a barrier island along the coast of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

The island is part of the greater Padre Island, the longest barrier island in the world, which spans a length of 113 miles (182 kilometers).

Barrier islands along the Gulf and East coasts of North America play a critical role in protecting the mainland from the damaging effects of storms. They bear the brunt of large storm surges and reduce flooding on the mainland.

Image Credit: NASA/Bob Hines
Updated: Feb 13, 2023
Editor: Monika Luabeya