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The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
(NASA Crew Earth Observations)
Astronaut Photography of Earth - Display Record
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IdentificationMission: ISS004 Roll: E Frame: 11807 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS004
Country or Geographic Name: FRANCE
Features: RHONE VALLEY, ALPS, CONTRAILS
Center Point: Latitude: 46.0 Longitude: 6.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Stereo: (Yes indicates there is an adjacent picture of the same area)
ONC Map ID: JNC Map ID:
CameraCamera Tilt: 30
Camera Focal Length: 35mm
Camera: E4: Kodak DCS760C Electronic Still Camera
Film: 3060E : 3060 x 2036 pixel CCD, RGBG array.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)
GMT Date: 20020515 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 064443 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 46.6, Longitude: 7.9 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: West
Sun Azimuth: 91 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 204 nautical miles (378 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 27 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 3909
CaptionsThis digital photograph taken through the windows of the International Space Station on May 15, 2002, shows condensation trails over the Rhône Valley in the region west of Lyon. Condensation trails—or contrails—are straight lines of ice crystals that form in the wake of jet liners where air temperatures at altitude are lower than about –40°C.
Newer contrails are thin whereas older trails have widened with time as a result of light winds. Because of this tendency for thin contrails to cover greater areas with time, it is estimated that these “artificial clouds” cover 0.1% of the planet’s surface. Percentages are far higher in some places such as southern California, the Ohio River Valley and parts of Europe, as illustrated here.
The climatic impact of such clouds is poorly understood. In an unprecedented experiment following the September 11 grounding of all aircraft in the United States, researchers reported in the August 8 issue of Nature that temperatures in areas usually affected by contrail blankets fluctuated higher and lower during the contrail-free period. Despite this dramatic conclusion, it is nevertheless too early to know whether contrails produce a net warming or cooling of the atmosphere. Whereas cirrus clouds seem to have a net warming effect, contrails are denser and thus may produce the opposite effect.
Travis, D. J., Carleton, A. M. and R. G. Lauritsen. 2002. Contrails reduce daily temperature range. Nature 418:601.
9/11 study: Air traffic affects climate (CNN) (http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/08/07/contrails.climate/index.html)
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .