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The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

(NASA Crew Earth Observations)

Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

Astronaut Photography of Earth - Display Record


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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 45656540405 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 61665639435 No No From STIC, color adjusted
View ISS005-E-21572_2.JPG 82639540405 Yes Yes Presentation
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 218531540356 Scientist RequestOnline Publication
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 245632540405 Photographic Highlights(540 px resized images)
View ISS005-E-21572_3.JPG 4283041024768 Yes Yes Presentation
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 7100991000754 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 7748851000659 Yes PresentationColor adjusted
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 8615721024768 Photographic Highlights(actual files used)
View ISS005-E-21572.JPG 129205030322064 No No From STIC, color adjusted

Electronic Image Data

Camera Files >> No sound file available.


Mission: ISS005 Roll: E Frame: 21572 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS005
Country or Geographic Name: AUSTRALIA-Q
Center Point: Latitude: Longitude: (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Stereo: (Yes indicates there is an adjacent picture of the same area)


Camera Tilt: Low Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 800mm
Camera: E4: Kodak DCS760C Electronic Still Camera
Film: 3060E : 3060 x 2036 pixel CCD, RGBG array.


Film Exposure:
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 25 (11-25)


GMT 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


Detailed 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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