Astronaut Photography from ISS: Unique Observations of the Earth
Part 2: Images of Earth that compliment satellite data.
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     Imagery from the ISS and the Space Shuttle are used by researchers as complimentary data to other remote sensing data sources. The long length-of-record (back to the early 1960s, in some cases), the ability to collect multiple scenes to build a time series, global coverage, high resolution, downloadable imagery, and variable perspectives are all attributes valued by the scientific community. There are three major categories of uses for this imagery in scientific studies:

  1. Researchers needing high resolution scenes in selected study areas. Even though satellites like Ikonos and Quickbird can provide high resolution data to scientists, many researchers work on such tight budgets that purchasing multiple scenes of high resolution data becomes cost prohibitive. Researchers can easily adapt ISS imagery, if available, for their needs.
  2. Researchers requiring lots of data. Again, purchasing tens or hundreds of scenes from sources like Landsat can become costly. Researchers can stretch their funds farther is they can augment their image data with imagery from the Shuttle or ISS. Astronaut photography is readily geo-referenced to Landsat projections.
  3. Students. Many graduate students, especially those with research areas outside of the US, require remotely sensed data but have no budget to purchase the data. Outside the US, it is frequently difficult to acquire accurate maps of remote areas. Students frequently download imagery of their research areas, or comparative areas for use in their work.