This high-resolution photograph taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station shows details of Athens’ historic ruins. The Acropolis is the large white complex near the center of the image. Astronauts use a 400 mm lens and a 2 x extender on a digital camera to take these detailed shots through the windows of the space station. By getting immediate feedback from the camera, they learn to track the spacecraft’s motion as it speeds over the Earth and get sharp photographs of small features.
Why is this image unique?: These detailed city photographs, with a pixel representing 6 m or less on the ground, have quickly become some of the most popular NASA images downloaded by the public. Images of cities taken by astronauts are so popular, that NASA’s website for distributing the images to the public (the “Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth” http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov) has a special collection of the most outstanding images of cities ever taken. About half of the 300,000-450,000 images downloaded by the public from the website each month feature cities.
ISS005-E-16846, 7 October 2002, 800 mm lens
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov