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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: 21572 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS005
Country or Geographic Name: AUSTRALIA-Q
Features: PLANKTON BLOOM, LINEAR
Center Point Latitude: Center Point Longitude: (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: 25 (11-25)
NadirGMT Date: 20021127 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 050711 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -22.5, Longitude: 152.6 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: West
Sun Azimuth: 261 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 215 nautical miles (398 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 41 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 2949
CaptionsDetailed imagery taken by astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) provides a new way of looking at many features on the Earth’s surface. This image captures a plankton bloom in the Capricorn Channel off the Queensland coast of Australia. The whispy pattern of the bloom suggests that the plankton are Trichodesmium—a photosynthetic cyanobacteria, also called “sea saw dust” that is common in the world’s oceans. Trichodesmium is frequently observed around Australia this time of year. In fact, Captain Cook’s ship logs written while he was sailing in Australian waters in the 1700s contain detailed descriptions of Trichodesmium blooms. Trichodesmium species are particularly important because of their role as primary producers: by sheer abundance, they fix a large amount of CO2 and N2.
Astronauts frequently photograph large plankton blooms during their missions because a significant portion of the ISS orbits cross long stretches of ocean. In the process, astronauts become acute observers of subtle changes in sea surface dynamics. Imagery of surface plankton blooms are multi-dimensional (in space and time) visualizations for the unique physical and chemical circumstances that support the blooms. Astronauts are trained and encouraged to document phytoplankton blooms, and to make repeated observations to better understand the longevity and temporal variations of the blooms. Only recently have astronauts had the capability of documenting these ocean features at high resolution—we estimate that each pixel in this image represents a square with sides of 6-8 m. The inset box shows zooms in on part of the bloom to illustrate the level of detail available.
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .