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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: ISS007 Roll: E Frame: 10974 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS007
Country or Geographic Name: ASIA
Features: NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS, MOON
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)
ONC Map ID: JNC Map ID:
CameraCamera Tilt: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 400mm
Camera: E4: Kodak DCS760C Electronic Still Camera
Film: 3060E : 3060 x 2036 pixel CCD, RGBG array.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: (0-10)
GMT Date: 20030727 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 171556 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 46.5, Longitude: 96.2 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: West
Sun Azimuth: 353 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 203 nautical miles (376 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: -24 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 2733
CaptionsThe sliver of the setting moon and clouds that shine at night—noctilucent clouds—caught the eye of astronaut Ed Lu aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last week.
Noctilucent clouds are very high clouds that look like cirrus clouds, but are much higher (75-90 km above the Earth’s surface) than clouds that we observe every day. They are optically thin and can only be observed during twilight hours, when the sun is just below the horizon and only shines on the uppermost atmosphere. In this image, the limb of the Earth at the bottom transitions into the orange-colored troposphere, the lowest and most dense portion of the Earth’s atmosphere. The troposphere ends abruptly at the tropopause, which appears in the image as the sharp boundary between the orange- and blue- colored atmosphere. The silvery-blue noctilucent clouds are far above this boundary.
This image was taken July 27, 2003 when the ISS was over central Asia. June and July is the season for noctilucent clouds in the northern hemisphere—they form in the polar mesosphere, generally above 50 degrees latitude. Recent studies address why noctilucent clouds exist, whether the frequency of occurrence has increased throughout the 20th century (some researchers believe they have), and whether their frequency reflects human activities. Astronauts and cosmonauts have observed them over northern latitudes (Europe, Russia) in the past, but this summer’s display has been remarkable.
Zahn, U. , Are Noctilucent Clouds Truly a “Miner’s Canary” for Global Change?, Eos, Vol. 84, No. 28, July 15, 2003
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .