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The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
(NASA Crew Earth Observations)
Astronaut Photography of Earth - Display Record
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IdentificationMission: ISS022 Roll: E Frame: 12224 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS022
Country or Geographic Name: CHILE
Features: EVAPORATION PONDS, SALAR DE ATACAMA
Center Point: Latitude: -23.5 Longitude: -68.4 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Stereo: (Yes indicates there is an adjacent picture of the same area)
ONC Map ID: JNC Map ID:
CameraCamera Tilt: 14
Camera Focal Length: 180mm
Camera: N2: Nikon D2Xs
Film: 4288E : 4288 x 2848 pixel CMOS sensor, RGBG imager color filter.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)
GMT Date: 20091215 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 182521 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -22.8, Longitude: -68.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Southwest
Sun Azimuth: 263 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 187 nautical miles (346 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 63 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 3456
CaptionsEvaporation Ponds, Salar de Atacama, Chile
The Salar de Atacama in Chile is an enclosed basin with no drainage outlets. (Salar is Spanish for “salt flat.”) The salar is located in the southern half of the Atacama Desert; with no historical or current records of rainfall in some parts of this desert, it is considered to be one of the driest places on Earth.
While the grey-brown surface of the salar is flat and desiccated, mineral-rich brines—water with a high percentage of dissolved salts—are located below the surface. The subsurface brines of the Salar de Atacama are particularly rich in lithium salts. Lithium is an essential component of advanced batteries and medicines.
The brines are pumped to the surface through a network of wells and into large, shallow evaporation ponds; three such evaporation facilities are visible in the center of the image. Color variations in the ponds are due to varying amounts of salts relative to water. The dry and windy climate enhances evaporation of the water, leaving concentrated salts behind for extraction of the lithium.
This astronaut photograph illustrates the central portion of the Salar de Atacama. It is bounded by brown to grey-brown folded and faulted rock layers of the Cordillera de la Sal to the northwest (image upper left) and darker bedrock of the Cordón de Lila to the south (image lower right).
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .