Every day, NASA’s Earth Observatory publishes images of our world from a perspective rarely seen by human eyes — from satellites high above the planet’s surface. In 2009, these images once again provided an extraordinary view of the powerful forces of nature, of the widening footprint of human civilization, and of the point where they often meet. In February, NASA satellite photos captured the massive brushfires roaring through southeastern Australia. Two months later, the space agency’s cameras documented the Aral Sea’s disappearance. The images expanded our view of how human land use is reshaping our world, from the patchwork farms of the U.S. Midwest to the building boom in Dubai. And the photographs illustrated that, from miles above, even the murky sediment in the Gulf of Mexico or a violent sandstorm off the Senegal coast can have a delicate beauty. Click to see a gallery of some of the more memorable images from the year.