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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 ISS007-E-12915.JPG 55010639435 No No
View ISS007-E-12915.JPG 57547540357 Photographic Highlights(resized 540 px images)
View ISS007-E-12915.JPG 97386540672 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web siteColor adjusted
View ISS007-E-12915.JPG 97386540672 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS007-E-12915_2.JPG 189720998659 Photographic Highlights(actual files used)
View ISS007-E-12915_2.JPG 6601851000659 No No NASA's Earth Observatory web siteColor adjusted
View ISS007-E-12915.JPG 88092830322064 No No
View ISS007-E-12915_2.JPG 645507061444068 No No PresentationEarth Sciences Results Briefing/Ed Lu
View ISS007-E-12915.TIF 1828379630322008 No No Extracted from original downlink

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Mission: ISS007 Roll: E Frame: 12915 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS007
Country or Geographic Name: EGYPT
Center Point: Latitude: 30.0 Longitude: 31.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Stereo: (Yes indicates there is an adjacent picture of the same area)


Camera Tilt: 49
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: 10 (0-10)


GMT Date: 20030818 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 145032 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 31.8, Longitude: 27.6 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Southeast
Sun Azimuth: 271 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 202 nautical miles (374 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 24 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 3075


As an example of the high resolution imagery achieved from the ISS, this view shows the Great pyramids of Egypt at approximately 6 m resolution. Although the pyramids have been imaged many times by astronauts, the specific combination of look angle, illumination from the sun, and weather conditions created a unique image. The sides of the pyramids face the cardinal directions, and the afternoon sun casts arrow-like shadows that point due East.

The composition of the full photograph—including human developments that are thousands of years old adjacent to extensive new developments—piques the interest of the general public. These types of images are used extensively by educators and students in science, history, geography, political science, and math classes.

ISS007-E-12915, 18 August 2003, 800 mm lens
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth,

All astronauts are interested in observing unique human footprints from space, and especially those reflecting thousands of years of human activities. The region of the Great Pyramids of Giza—the last remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—is a favorite target. Although the pyramids have been imaged many times before by astronauts (for example: Space Station View of the Pyramids at Giza) , each new image provides a unique look at the archeological monument, depending on the viewing angle from the ISS and the illumination from the sun.

Giza is a royal burial place, commissioned and built by pharaohs during the fourth dynasty around 2550 BC. Started by Khufu, continued by his son Khafre (Khafre pyramid and the Sphinx), and later by his son, Menkaure, the complex also includes many tombs and temples for queens, other members of royal families, and royal attendants.

The low sun angle in this image allows for many of the smaller surrounding monuments to be observed. Further, the sides of the pyramid align with the cardinal directions. In this view, the shadows from afternoon sun provide directional arrows that point east. For scale, the current length of the large pyramid at the base is 227 m (745 ft), and the height is 137 m (449).

Today, Giza is a rapidly growing region of Cairo. Population growth in Egypt continues to soar, leading to new construction. New roads for large new developments are obvious in the desert hills northwest and southwest of the pyramids. Documenting patterns of urban growth around the world is a prime science objective for Earth photography by ISS astronauts.

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