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(NASA Crew Earth Observations)

Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS018-E-24351.JPG 92354640437 No No
View ISS018-E-24351.JPG 254852540392 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS018-E-24351.JPG 60245030722098 No No
View ISS018-E-24351.JPG 7436191000726 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site

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Mission: ISS018 Roll: E Frame: 24351 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS018
Country or Geographic Name: SOCIETY ISLANDS
Center Point: Latitude: -17.0 Longitude: -149.5 (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: 180mm
Camera: N2: Nikon D2Xs
Film: 4288E : 4288 x 2848 pixel CMOS sensor, RGBG imager color filter.


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


GMT Date: 20090127 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 205028 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -16.4, Longitude: -148.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: West
Sun Azimuth: 99 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 191 nautical miles (354 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 72 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 2387


Tetiaroa Island, French Polynesia

Tetiaroa Island is part of the Society Islands archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean, one of several island clusters in French Polynesia. Tetiaroa is an atoll comprised of thirteen small islets (or motus). This astronaut photograph illustrates the typical circular appearance of a fully developed atoll.

The ring of islands—covered in green vegetation and white-to-tan sandy beaches—develops on coral reefs, which originally form around a volcanic island. As the volcanic island gradually disappears due to subsidence and erosion, the coral reefs continue to grow upwards. Over time, the central volcanic island is completely submerged, leaving a ring of coral reefs and islands that surround a lagoon. The shallow lagoon waters appear blue-green in this image, and contrast with darker and deeper Pacific Ocean waters surrounding the atoll.

One of the motus in the southern portion of the atoll, Tahuna Rahi, is a protected bird sanctuary, and it is the nesting site of red- and brown-footed boobies, frigatebirds, and terns (among other species). Access to the atoll is via boat, as the airstrip was closed in 2004 due to safety and security concerns.

Tetiaroa Island is also known as “Marlon Brando’s Island.” The late film star purchased the atoll from the French Polynesian government between 1966 and 1967. While the motus were his property, the government retained the rights to the coral reefs and lagoons to preserve control of marine resources. Following Brando’s death in 2004, ownership of the approximately 8-kilometer-wide atoll passed into other private hands, and there are now plans to build a luxury resort among the islets.

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