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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 ISS027-E-9771.JPG 112271640437 No No
View ISS027-E-9771.JPG 233835540359 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS027-E-9771.JPG 6714251000664 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS027-E-9771.JPG 167816042882929 No No

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Mission: ISS027 Roll: E Frame: 9771 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS027
Country or Geographic Name: INDIAN OCEAN I(S).
Center Point: Latitude: -21.5 Longitude: 39.7 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: 48
Camera Focal Length: 800mm
Camera: N2: Nikon D2Xs
Film: 4288E : 4288 x 2848 pixel CMOS sensor, RGBG imager color filter.


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


GMT Date: 20110402 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 103147 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: -24.2, Longitude: 42.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Northwest
Sun Azimuth: 325 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 192 nautical miles (356 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 56 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 2897


Bassas da India in Sunglint, Indian Ocean

The vantage point of astronauts on board the International Space Station provides many dramatic views of the Earth’s surface. Occasionally those views become spectacular. This detailed astronaut photograph of the Bassas da India, an uninhabited atoll in the Indian Ocean (between the Mozambique coast of Africa and the island of Madagascar) has an almost surreal quality due to varying degrees of sunglint. Sunglint is an optical phenomena caused by light reflecting off of a water surface directly back towards the observer.

Variations in the roughness of the water surface—presence or absence of waves due to wind and water currents— will cause differences in the intensity of the sunglint. The presence of other materials, such as oils or surfactants, can also change the properties of the water surface. Here the presence of currents is highlighted as darker patches or streaks (image left, image upper right). In contrast, shallow water in the lagoon (image center) presents a more uniform, mirror-like appearance in sunglint suggesting that there are no subsurface currents present. Wave crests visible around the atoll are likely the result of both surface winds and subsurface currents.

The Bassas da India atoll is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. It is uninhabited due to its complete submergence during high tide – there is no vegetation established on the atoll for the same reason. The atoll is approximately 10 km in diameter, and covers an area (including the lagoon) of approximately 80 square kilometers.

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