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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 ISS023-E-28353.JPG 89771438640 No No
View ISS023-E-28353.JPG 521569540814 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS023-E-28353.JPG 130753610001507 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS023-E-28353.JPG 133720229134256 No No

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Mission: ISS023 Roll: E Frame: 28353 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS023
Country or Geographic Name: ARGENTINA
Center Point: Latitude: -26.0 Longitude: -67.5 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 80mm
Camera: N5: Nikon D3S
Film: 4256E : 4256 x 2832 pixel CMOS sensor, 36.0mm x 23.9mm, total pixels: 12.87 million, Nikon FX format.


Film Exposure:
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)


GMT Date: 20100426 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 123214 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -21.0, Longitude: -69.1 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: South
Sun Azimuth: 65 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 187 nautical miles (346 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 21 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 1533


Panorama of Central Andes Mountains, Salar de Arizaro, Argentina

This panorama was taken by an astronaut looking southeast across the South American continent when the International Space Station (ISS) was almost directly over the Atacama Desert near Chile’s Pacific coast. The high plains (3000–5000 meters, or 13,000–19,000 feet) of the Andes Mountains, also known as the Puna, appear in the foreground, with a line of young volcanoes (dashed line) facing the much lower Atacama Desert (1000–2000 m elevation). Several salt-crusted dry lakes (known as salars in Spanish) occupy the basins between major thrust faults in the Puna. Salar de Arizaro (foreground) is the largest of the dry lakes in this view. The Atlantic Ocean coastline, where Argentina’s capital city of Buenos Aires sits along the Río de la Plata, is dimly visible at image top left.

Near image center, the transition (solid line) between two distinct geological zones, the Puna and the Sierras Pampeanas, creates a striking landscape contrast. Compared to the Puna, the Sierras Pampeanas mountains are lower in elevation and have fewer young volcanoes. Sharp-crested ridges are separated by wide, low valleys in this region. The Salinas Grandes—ephemeral shallow salt lakes—occupies one of these valleys. The general color change from reds and browns in the foreground to blues and greens in the upper part of the image reflects the major climatic regions: the deserts of the Atacama and Puna versus the grassy plains of central Argentina, where rainfall is sufficient to promote lush prairie grass, known locally as the pampas. The Salinas Grandes mark an intermediate, semiarid region.

What accounts for the changes in topography between the Puna and the Sierras Pameanas? The geology of this part of the Andes is a result of the eastward subduction of the Nazca tectonic plate underneath South America. Seismic data suggest that beneath the Puna, the Nazca Plate is dipping down steeply. Beneath the Sierras Pampeanas zone, however, the underlying Nazca plate is almost horizontal. The levelness may be due to the subduction of a submarine mountain range known as the Juan Fernández Ridge. In the simplest terms, ridges are topographic highs that are difficult to stuff down into the subduction zone, and that has profound effects on the volcanism and structures of the overlying South America plate.

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