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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: ISS026 Roll: E Frame: 6255 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS026
Country or Geographic Name: USA-NEVADA
Features: LAS VEGAS AT NIGHT, CITY LIGHTS, MCCARRAN AIRPORT
Center Point: Latitude: 36.1 Longitude: -115.2 (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: 180mm
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.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)
GMT Date: 20101130 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 120600 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 40.0, Longitude: -110.1 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Southwest
Sun Azimuth: 98 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 189 nautical miles (350 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: -25 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 963
CaptionsLas Vegas at Night
The Las Vegas metropolitan area is located near the southern tip of Nevada, within the Mohave Desert. While the city is famous for its casinos and resort hotels—Las Vegas bills itself as “the entertainment capital of the world”—the wider metropolitan area includes several other incorporated cities and unincorporated areas (not part of a state-recognized municipality).
Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) observe and photograph numerous metropolitan areas when they are illuminated by sunlight, but the extent and pattern of these areas is perhaps best revealed at night by city lights. The surrounding darkness of the desert presents a stark contrast to the brightly lit street grid of the developed area. The Vegas Strip is reputed to be the brightest spot on Earth due to the concentration of lights on its hotels and casinos. The tarmac of McCarran International Airport is dark by comparison, while the airstrips of Nellis Air Force Base on the northeastern fringe are likewise dark. The dark mass of Frenchman Mountain borders the city to the east.
The acquisition of focused nighttime images requires astronauts to track the target with the handheld camera while the ISS is moving at a speed of more than 7 kilometers per second (over 15,000 miles per hour) relative to the Earth’s surface. This was achieved during ISS Expedition 6 using a homemade tracking device, but subsequent crews have needed to develop manual tracking skills. These skills, together with advances in digital camera technology, have enabled recent ISS crews to acquire striking nighttime images of the Earth (such as this recent image of the Nile River Delta).
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .