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Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

Astronaut Photography of Earth - Display Record

ISS006-E-45499

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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS006-E-45499.JPG 37308540362 NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS006-E-45499.JPG 46107639435 No No
View ISS006-E-45499.JPG 86071930322064 No No

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Electronic Image Data

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Identification

Mission: ISS006 Roll: E Frame: 45499 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS006
Country or Geographic Name: TANZANIA
Features: MOUNT KILIMANJARO
Center Point: Latitude: -3.0 Longitude: 37.5 (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:

Camera

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

Quality

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

Nadir

GMT Date: 20030409 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 085940 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 1.8, Longitude: 35.1 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: South
Sun Azimuth: 61 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 210 nautical miles (389 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 78 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 1027

Captions

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant stratovolcano and the highest mountain in Africa. Kibo Summit (5,893 m) at the top of Kilimanjaro is one of the few peaks in Africa to retain glaciers. This image is a high oblique photograph taken from the International Space Station in early April 2003. That photograph provides a 3-dimensional perspective on the positions of the glaciers on the upper northwestern and southern flanks of the mountain. A comparison photograph, ISS009-E-13366, taken from the International Space Station in late June 2004, shows large glacier fields (blue-white, with defined edges) on the northwestern and southern slopes of the peak. In this scene, a light layer of snow brightens the dark brown terrain around the glaciers.

Scientists use ice cores, an automated weather station, computer modeling, and images like these as tools to learn about the past and present activity of Kilimanjaro’s receding glaciers. One atmospheric scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison found clues that link reduced cloud cover to post-1880 decreased water levels in East African lakes. Lake evaporation indicates a decrease in both precipitation and cloudiness around Kilimanjaro. These two images illustrate the changes over time in snow cover at the summit as well as the current extent of the glaciers themselves. Light brown outwash channels from the northwestern flank icefield are particularly evident in the oblique photograph (top). While clear conditions over Kilimanjaro allow for the collection of spectacular images like these, the lack of cloud cover may be one cause for the glaciers’ retreat. The increased sunlight facilitates faster evaporation and less precipitation—thus, the land surface absorbs more incoming sunlight and, as it warms, the ice and snow melts at an accelerated pace.

Most scientists agree that the glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro will be gone by the year 2020, but there is less agreement as to why they are now receding. Climatologists are now studying current weather trends, environmental changes from the late 1800s, and historical records of the mountain climate compared with longer-term climate records at lower elevations. A correct interpretation of the ice core data may help provide an explanation for this glacial recession. The loss of Kilimanjaro’s permanent ice fields will have both climatological and hydrological implications for local populations who depend on access to melt water from the ice fields as a source of fresh water during dry seasons and monsoon failures.

Additional images of Mt. Kilimanjaro:
Kilimanjaro (Landsat 7)
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (SRTM)
Melting Snows of Kilimanjaro (Landsat 5 & 7)
Kilimanjaro-The Shining Mountain (Space Shuttle STS 38)
Mt. Kilimanjaro’s Receding Glaciers (Space Shuttle STS 97)

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