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Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS009-E-5090.JPG 57781540357 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS009-E-5090.JPG 87842639435 No No
View ISS009-E-5090.JPG 8208021000659 No No
View ISS009-E-5090.JPG 122000730322064 No No

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Mission: ISS009 Roll: E Frame: 5090 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS009
Country or Geographic Name: MEXICO
Center Point: Latitude: 20.5 Longitude: -103.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: 40
Camera Focal Length: 105mm
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: 20040430 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 170326 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 18.0, Longitude: -101.9 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: North
Sun Azimuth: 93 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 193 nautical miles (357 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 66 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 3086


Lake Chapala, Mexico:
Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle and Space Station have tracked regional environmental changes spanning decades. Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake, serves as one example of an area experiencing significant changes that have been well documented from space. Over the past twenty years, the lake’s water levels have decreased in conjunction with increasing development from the fast-growing city of Guadalajara.

Chapala is an alpine lake in west-central Mexico, resting at an elevation of 1,500 meters. It is part of the Lerma-Santiago River system, being fed mainly by the Lerma River on the east side of the lake and draining into the Rio Grande de Santiago from the northeast corner of the lake. The water then flows northwest into the Pacific Ocean. The combined effects of diminished inflow from dams on the Rio Lerma, heavy use of water for irrigation, and regional droughts in recent years have resulted in lower water levels in the lake. This is important to humans because it is the major water source for the nearby city of Guadalajara and its five million residents. Today, the mean depth of Lake Chapala is approximately 7 meters, with seasonal variations of water depth and clarity.

The lake is also a critical habitat for several species of migratory birds, such as the white pelican, and home to thousands of indigenous plants and animals. Untreated industrial and agricultural runoff threaten the health of this critical lake. The rapid development of the Lake Chapala region has spurred grassroots conservation programs to maintain the natural habitats of the lake and maintain a healthy ecotourism industry.

This image's comparison, taken in November 1982 from the Space Shuttle (STS005-37-758) along with this one taken in April 2004 from the International Space Station, shows some of the coastline changes around the lake. In the 2004 image (image shown here), sun glint reflecting off the water surface highlights the water-vegetation boundary of the coastal marshes that have emerged with lower lake levels. Their estimated locations are annotated on the 1985 image as dashed lines—roughly following the boundary of more turbid water. The built-up area of Guadalajara has also expanded from the 1982 baseline.

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