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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 ISS008-E-8951.JPG 21092639437 No No
View ISS008-E-8951.JPG 63364540540 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS008-E-8951_2.JPG 1166366561000 No No NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS008-E-8951.JPG 172381540677 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web sitecolor adjusted
View ISS008-E-8951.JPG 25119020001368 No No
View ISS008-E-8951.JPG 53714010001529 No No NASA's Earth Observatory web sitecolor adjusted
View ISS008-E-8951.JPG 85104913082000 No No Earth From Space collectioncolor adjusted
View ISS008-E-8951.TIF 793223820001312 No No Original file from camera

Electronic Image Data

Camera Files >> No sound file available.


Mission: ISS008 Roll: E Frame: 8951 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS008
Country or Geographic Name: ASTRONOMICAL OBJECTS
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: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 800mm
Camera: N1: Nikon D1
Film: 2000E : 2000 x 1312 pixel CCD, RGBG imager color filter.


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


GMT Date: 20031218 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 154429 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 38.9, Longitude: -13.3 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: South
Sun Azimuth: 221 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 199 nautical miles (369 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 16 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 984


Thinning Upper Atmosphere:
From a vantage point about 360 km (225 miles) over the Earth, Space Station crewmembers photographed the crescent moon through the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere. At the bottom of the image, a closed deck of clouds is probably at about 6 km (3 miles). The shades of blue grading to black are caused by the scatter of light as it strikes gas molecules of the very low density upper atmosphere.

Models predict that emissions of carbon dioxide are causing the upper atmosphere to cool and contract, and therefore reduce the density of gases in the layer spanning from 90 to 649 km (60 to 400 miles) above the surface—known as the thermosphere. According to a study by the Naval Research Laboratory (, the density of the thermosphere has decreased about 10 percent over the last 35 years. These findings are important both for space science and for Earth science. Spacecraft in orbit, such as the International Space Station, experience less drag and need fewer boosts to maintain their orbit. At the same time, space debris also remains in orbit longer, which increases hazards to spacecraft. Most importantly, the study validates models of the “greenhouse effect” of increased carbon dioxide release on the dynamics of the atmosphere.

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