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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: ISS023 Roll: E Frame: 57948 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS023
Country or Geographic Name: INDIAN OCEAN
Features: ATMOSPHERIC LIMB, CLOUDS, SKYGLOW
Center Point Latitude: Center Point Longitude: (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: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 400mm
Camera: N3: Nikon D3
Film: 4256E : 4256 x 2832 pixel CMOS sensor, 36.0mm x 23.9mm, total pixels: 12.87 million, Nikon FX format.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 75 (51-75)
NadirGMT Date: 20100525 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 142514 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -8.9, Longitude: 74.2 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction:
Sun Azimuth: 289 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 192 nautical miles (356 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: -23 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 1991
CaptionsSunset Seen from the International Space Station
This spectacular image of sunset on the Indian Ocean was taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The image presents an edge-on, or limb view, of the Earth’s atmosphere as seen from orbit. The Earth’s curvature is visible along the horizon line, or limb, that extends across the image from center left to lower right. Above the darkened surface of the Earth, a brilliant sequence of colors roughly denotes several layers of the atmosphere.
Deep oranges and yellows appear in the troposphere, which extends from the Earth’s surface to 6–20 km high. This layer contains over 80 percent of the mass of the atmosphere and almost all of the water vapor, clouds, and precipitation. Several dark cloud layers are visible within this layer. Variations in the colors are due mainly to varying concentrations of either clouds or aerosols (airborne particles or droplets).
The pink to white region above the clouds appears to be the lower stratosphere; this atmospheric layer generally has few or no clouds, and it extends up to approximately 50 km above the Earth’s surface. Above the stratosphere, blue layers likely mark the transition between the middle and upper atmosphere as it gradually fades into the blackness of outer space.
The ISS was located over the southern Indian Ocean when this picture was taken, with the astronaut looking towards the west. Astronauts aboard the ISS see 16 sunrises and sunsets per day due to their high orbital velocity (greater than 28,000 km per hour). The multiple chances for photography are fortunate because at that speed, each sunrise or sunset only lasts a few seconds!
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Recommended Citation: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .