Astronaut Photography from ISS: Unique Observations of the Earth
Part 2: Images of Earth that compliment satellite data. Read more >>
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Coral reef, Tuamotu Archipelago:

This comparison of Landsat 7 ETM+ and Digital photography from the ISS illustrates how astronaut photography can be an important source of supplemental data to studies using satellite imagery. In this set of images the key fishery habitat to be mapped is the reticulated reef lagoon. At Landsat’s 30 m spatial resolution there is not enough information about the lagoon structure — the most important reef structures are too small to be seen on Landsat images. By combining astronaut photography from ISS that has 5-m resolution, scientists were able to get a map of the area that meets the needs of local resource managers.

Why is this image unique?: Detailed photographs of reefs taken from the ISS are being used around the world to serve as base maps for field cartography during surveys of the geomorphological and ecological zones of the reefs. The high spatial resolution of the images (about 5 m/pixel) make them highly suited for comparison to what is seen by divers in the water.

Digital photographs from the Space Station are more than just pretty pictures, they contain 3 bands of remote sensing data. NOAA scientists recently reported success in measuring shallow bathymetry (the depth of the water around the reefs) from ISS reef photographs.

ISS002-E-6372, 21 May 2001, 800 mm lens
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth,

Scientific references:
Andréfouët, S., J. A. Robinson, C. Hu, G. C. Feldman, B. Salvat, C. Payri, and F. E. Muller-Karger. 2003. Influence of the spatial resolution of SeaWiFS, Landsat 7, SPOT and International Space Station data on landscape parameters of Pacific Ocean atolls. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 29(2):210-218.
Stumpf, R. P., K. Holderied, J. A. Robinson, G. Feldman, N. Kuring. Mapping water depths in clear water from space. Proceedings of the 13th Biennial Coastal Zone Conference, Baltimore, Maryland, 13-17 July 2003, 5 pp.
Andréfouët, S., and J. A. Robinson. 2003. The use of Space Shuttle images to improve cloud detection in mapping of tropical coral reef environments. International Journal of Remote Sensing 24(1):143-149.