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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: ISS005 Roll: E Frame: 2054 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS005
Country or Geographic Name: TANZANIA
Features: LAKE NATRON, ALKALI SALT CRUST
Center Point Latitude: -2.5 Center Point Longitude: 36.0 (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: Low Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 800mm
Camera: E4: Kodak DCS760C Electronic Still Camera
Film: 3060E : 3060 x 2036 pixel CCD, RGBG array.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)
NadirGMT Date: 20021111 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: , Longitude: (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction:
Sun Azimuth: (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: nautical miles (0 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
CaptionsIf Lake Natron, in Africa’s Great Rift Valley had a color theme, it would be pink. The alkali salt crust on the surface of the lake is often colored red or pink by the salt-loving microorganisms that live there. And the lake is the only breeding area for the 2.5 million Lesser Flamingoes that live in the valley. These flamingoes flock along saline lakes in the region, where they feed on Spirulina (a blue-green algae with red pigments). Lake Natron is the only breeding location for Lesser Flamingoes because its caustic environment is a barrier against predators trying to reach their nests. The temperatures in the mud can reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Farenheit), and depending on recent rainfall, the alkalinity can reach a pH of 9 to 10.5 (almost as alkaline as straight ammonia). Even more amazing than the ability of the flamingoes to live in these conditions, is the fact that an endemic species of fish, the alkaline tilapia thrives in the waters at the edges of the hotspring inlets. Because of the unique biodiversity (http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at0901_full.html), Tanzania named the Lake Natron Basin to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance on 4 July 2001.
This mosaic of photographs of the southern portion of Lake Natron shows the largest open lagoon area, and island mud flat, and a large area of pink salt crust. The images were taken by astronauts from the International Space Station on 11 November 2002, using a digital camera, 400 mm lens, and 2 x extender, in order to capture the details of the salt crust structures. The colors show the actual colors viewed by the astronauts. Each time the lake is photographed, there are differences in the pattern of its salt crust, and the red colors of the blue-green algae and bacteria on the surface of the crust.
Previous examples of the appearance of Lake Natron salt crusts as photographed from the Space Shuttle:
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .