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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: ISS024 Roll: E Frame: 11914 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS024
Country or Geographic Name: TUAMOTU ARCHIPELAGO
Features: MATAIVA ISLAND, CORAL REEF, PACIFIC OCEAN, PAHUA
Center Point: Latitude: -14.9 Longitude: -148.7 (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: 46
Camera Focal Length: 400mm
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: 20100813 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 210718 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -14.5, Longitude: -151.9 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: East
Sun Azimuth: 30 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 190 nautical miles (352 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 57 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 3254
CaptionsMataiva Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, South Pacific Ocean
The Tuamotu Archipelago is part of French Polynesia, and forms the largest chain of atolls in the world. This astronaut photograph features Mataiva Atoll, the westernmost atoll of the Tuamotu chain. An atoll is a ring-shaped island that encloses a central lagoon. This distinctive morphology is usually associated with oceanic islands formed by volcanoes; coral reefs become established around the partially submerged volcanic cone. Over geologic time the central volcano becomes extinct, followed by erosion and subsidence beneath the sea surface, leaving the coral reefs as a ring around (or cap on) the submerged island remnant. Coral reefs exposed above the sea surface in turn experience erosion, sedimentation, and soil formation, leading to the establishment of vegetation and complex ecosystems—including in many cases human habitation.
Mataiva Atoll is notable in that its central lagoon includes a network of ridges (white, image center) and small basins formed from eroded coral reefs. Mataiva means “nine eyes” in Tuamotuan, an allusion to nine narrow channels on the south-central portion of the island. The atoll is sparsely populated, with only a single village—Pahua—located on either side of the only pass providing constant connection between the shallow (light blue) water of the lagoon and the deeper (dark blue) adjacent Pacific Ocean. Much of the 10-kilometer- (6-mile-) long atoll is covered with forest (greenish brown). Vanilla and copra (dried coconut) are major exports from the atoll, but tourism is becoming a larger part of the economy.
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .