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(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 ISS015-E-10118.JPG 58382639435 No No
View ISS015-E-10118.JPG 313724540721 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS015-E-10118.JPG 62216010001336 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS015-E-10118.JPG 104750930322064 No No

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Mission: ISS015 Roll: E Frame: 10118 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS015
Country or Geographic Name: ATLANTIC OCEAN
Center Point: Latitude: -48.8 Longitude: -24.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: 27
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: 20070530 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 144611 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -50.0, Longitude: -25.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Northeast
Sun Azimuth: 343 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 181 nautical miles (335 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 17 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 799


Iceberg A22A, South Atlantic Ocean

This astronaut photograph illustrates the remains of a giant iceberg—designated A22A— that broke off Antarctica in 2002. The iceberg was photographed on May 30 at a location of 49.9 degrees south latitude, 23.8 degrees west longitude, which is about a third of the distance from South America towards Cape Town, South Africa. A22A is one of the largest icebergs to drift as far north as 50 degrees south latitude, bringing it beneath the daylight path of the International Space Station (ISS). Crew members aboard the ISS were able to locate the ice mass and photograph it, despite the great masses of clouds that often accompany winter storms in the Southern Ocean. The crew’s viewing angle was oblique (not looking straight down) from a point to the west of the berg, and the time of day was early afternoon, as shown by the orientation of the cloud shadows. Dimensions of A22A in early June were 49.9 by 23.4 kilometers, giving it an area of 622 square kilometers, or seven times the area of Manhattan Island.

Once the ISS crew had located the iceberg, they managed to photograph it successfully with the “long”, 800-mm lens that provides close-up photos. Handling the longer lens requires practice. Because of the speed of the spacecraft and the length of the lens, it is necessary for the astronaut to “track” the target, that is, to swing the camera slowly to keep the target in the middle of the camera’s view finder. If the photographer tracks too slowly or too quickly, the image looks smeared.

This long lens image only shows a small part of the iceberg. A series of parallel lines can be seen. These are probably “hummocks,” dunes of snow that have solidified, and they date back to the time when the iceberg was connected to Antarctica. A developing fracture in the ice in also visible.

Images of the iceberg are being acquired from the ISS to support a study of massive icebergs—part of NASA International Polar Year activities. The study will increase understanding of the way ice sheets evolve as climate changes. When large masses of ice float into warmer waters north of their usual latitudes, they undergo change at rapidly increased rates. Changes that would take decades to occur in Antarctica can happen in a few years or even months in the warmer conditions at 50 degrees south latitude. The crew of the ISS will continue to collect imagery of the accelerating breakup of iceberg A22A as weather, orbital, and illumination conditions allow.

More information, including Webcams, on the studies conducted on A22 and at other places in the Antarctic can be found at and the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s Icetrek Website (

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