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Oregon Coast from Orbit: Seeing the Beaches from Space

Published 03/04/2018 at 6:35 PM PDT - Updated 03/04/2018 at 6:36 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Dizzying Oregon Coast Heights: Seeing the Beaches from Space

(Oregon Coast) – To enter that divine state of being blown away by any scene along the Oregon coast is no surprise. The region is one jaw-dropping moment after another. It’s Oregon’s number one attraction for a reason, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s 363 miles of shoreline to pick from. (Above: Astoria seen from space).

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However, what if you could see it from space?

There was until 2014 a wealth of such pictures pouring from the skies. An imaging system aboard the International Space Station called HICO – for Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean – was taking such amazing shots on a regular basis. They were sending them down to researchers here on Earth, including at Oregon State University (OSU) and at the central Oregon coast’s Hatfield Marine Science Center for all kinds of scientific endeavors.

However, according to OSU, the steady flow of those beauties is now gone.

“In September 2014 during an X-class solar storm, HICO’s computer took a severe radiation hit, from which it never recovered,” the university said in 2015. “Over the past several months, engineers at NRL and NASA have attempted to restart the computer and have conducted numerous tests to find alternative pathways to communicate with it. None of these attempts have been successful. So it is with great sadness that we bid a fond farewell to HICO.”

The point was to examine the ocean and near-shore environments from orbit. Above is the image of the Columbia River from orbit, including Astoria and the southwest Washington coast. Below, you’ll find Newport’s Yaquina Bay.

Then there's the stunning pleasures of simple aerial shots.


Looking at Cannon Beach a little closer to the ground, here you see Ecola State Park from an aerial vantage point. The gigantic parking lot looks more like an enormous, even ominous slug from this high up.


Nearby, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse started shining in the 1880’s. Extinguished in the 1950’s, it became a resting place for the ashes of the dead, until that company went belly up around the Millennium. The ashes are still there, but the birds and waves have taken over.



Cape Falcon near Manzanita has much more to reveal. Gigantic sea caves abound here, otherwise out of sight and out of mind. Where to stay in these areas - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours


What does outer space and the Oregon coast look like together? As if the beaches have taken a selfie with the universe behind it, including some awe-inspiring glimpses of the Milky Way Galaxy floating above the waves at Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay. Below: the galaxy from Cannon Beach.


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