ISS007 Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Photographic Highlights

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Salt Lake City, Utah: The regional environmental impact of urban sprawl around fast-growing cities can be documented and monitored from space. As an example, Salt Lake City, Utah, has experienced rapid population growth over the last 10 years.

This regional view of Salt Lake City, photographed on 14 June 2003 from the International Space Station, shows the city and its suburbs nestled between the Wasatch Front and the Great Salt Lake. Interstate Highway 15 runs North-South through the valley, with suburbs arrayed east and west of the highway (annotated on the image). A photograph like this one helps in visualizing the trade-offs between urban, agricultural, and wildlife uses of water in a desert environment.

An important issue facing Salt Lake City’s growing population is preservation and allocation of water resources. Utah is in its fifth year of drought. One of the most dramatic effects of the drought visible in this picture is the fact that the lake levels are so low that Antelope Island is separated from the mainland by dry lakebed. This year it is so dry that it is possible to walk on the mudflat. The level of the Great Salt Lake has dropped more than 7 feet since the drought began in 1999.

Expansive, productive wetlands occur where freshwater flows from the Wasatch Range and into the lake. The southern end of this network of wetlands can be seen in the image. The Great Salt Lake Wetland Ecosystem is recognized as being of hemispheric importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and has been nominated for inclusion on the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’ list of Wetlands of International Significance.

Images of cities taken from the International Space Station are one of the science themes for the Crew Earth Observations Project. Astronauts take detailed views using long lenses that show roads and major buildings and synoptic views, like this one, that show the entire urban area with suburbs and surrounding lands in a single field of view.

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Hurricane Claudette: The crew of the International Space Station had a great seat from which to observe tropical storm Claudette as it became a Category I hurricane. The storm came ashore with high winds up to 80 miles per hour and heavy rains that also drenched their Houston home base and the Coastal Bend of Texas. This digital image was recorded at 13:26:36 GMT, July 15, 2003. The view looks north from the coast near Brownsville at the Texas-Mexico border. The western-most feeder bands had already crossed the coastline. Claudette made landfall near Matagorda Bay shortly after this image was taken.
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Peruvian Valleys: Some of the deepest canyons in the world cut west to the Pacific from the high crest of the Andes Mountains in Peru. This dramatic image taken from the International Space Station provides a birds-eye view down the canyons of the Rio Camana and the Rio Ocona. The low early morning sun highlights the extreme topography created by rapidly uplifting mountains and powerful water erosion by water dropping nearly 10,000 feet (more than 3000 m) in this view. At the edge of the image is the snowy flanks of Nevado Coropuna, the highest mountain in the Cordillera Occidental (6613 meters)

The coastal plane provides a small area for cultivating crops. The coastal region near the city of Camana suffered extensive damage from a tsunami in 2001.

Deepest Canyons of the Andes, Camaná, Peru and Tsunami Vulnerability, and Earthquake Epicenter, Peru show other views of this area from space.

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London, England: (6 July 2003). This nadir view of London, England, was downlinked from the International Space Station by one of the Expedition 6 crew members. A number of man-made landmarks are visible in the digital image, along with easily recognizable natural points of interest, like the River Thames, seen winding primarily horizontally through the image. The crew members could not help but be mindful of the Wimbledon tennis tourney being held at Centercourt Stadium as the camera lens was able to capture the popular site, seen in the southwest part of London.
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Kitty Hawk, North Carolina: This year the world celebrates a century of human flight with the one hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station share a kindred spirit of flight accomplishments and commemorated the centennial celebration with this image of Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

Kitty Hawk is located on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The Wrights used the Outer Banks’ prevailing winds and the altitude gained by climbing a 90-foot hill (Kill Devil Hill) to successfully demonstrate powered flight. The large circle on the image is a road ringing Kill Devil Hill, now part of the Wright Brothers National Memorial. A large granite monument sits on top of the hill. Both the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Dayton, Ohio (hometown of the Wright Brothers) will host celebrations of the Wright Brothers’ achievement throughout the year.

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Gosses Bluff Impact Crater, Northern Territory, Australia: Impact craters, like those we observe on the moon, also occur on Earth. They result from the collisions of extraterrestrial bodies (like meteorites, asteroids or comets) with the Earth. Planetary scientists study Earth’s impact craters to gain insight about the early history of the Earth and the Solar System. Recent studies indicate that large impacts on Earth may have played an important role in the succession of life on Earth.

Australia is a very good place to observe and study impact craters. Much of the Australian surface is very old, so Australia has collected more impacts than many other parts of the world. Because of the dry climate, the craters haven’t weathered away, nor are they hidden by dense vegetation.

This image shows Gosses Bluff, an impact crater sandwiched between the Macdonnell Range to the north and the James Range to the south in Australia’s Northern Territory—it is about 160 km west of Alice Springs. It is one of the most studied of the Australian impact craters. The impactor, an asteroid or comet, was probably about 1 km in diameter and crashed into the earth about 142 million years ago. The isolated circular feature within the crater consists of a central ring of hills about 4.5 km in diameter. The grayish feature surrounding the inner ring probably marks the original boundary of the outer rim.

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