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Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS030-E-99324.JPG 109772640426 No No
View ISS030-E-99324.JPG 195910540350 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS030-E-99324.JPG 5263741000648 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS030-E-99324.JPG 303450742562832 No No

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Mission: ISS030 Roll: E Frame: 99324 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS030
Country or Geographic Name: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Center Point: Latitude: 25.1 Longitude: 55.1 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: 29
Camera Focal Length: 400mm
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: 20120222 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 192400 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 24.3, Longitude: 56.8 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: West
Sun Azimuth: 311 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 207 nautical miles (383 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: -70 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number:


City Lights of Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Note: This caption refers to the image versions labeled "NASA's Earth Observatory web site".

The City of Dubai—the largest metropolitan area within the emirate of Dubai—is a favorite subject of astronaut photography largely due to the unique island developments situated directly offshore in the Persian Gulf. These artificial archipelagos have been built such that their full design is only visible from the vantage point of an airplane – or an orbiting spacecraft such as the International Space Station (ISS). Advancements in handheld camera technology and capabilities are also improving the ISS crew’s ability to capture detailed night time imagery.

The city presents an eye-catching appearance at night that vividly displays the urban development pattern. In this detailed night time image—taken with a long focal length lens and digital camera optimized for fast response and high light sensitivity—several interesting patterns can be observed. The highways and major streets are sharply defined by yellow-orange lighting, while the commercial and residential areas are resolved into a speckle pattern of individual white, blue, and yellow-orange lights. Several large and brilliantly lit areas are large hotel and mall complexes, including the Burj Khalifa Tower; at 828 meters (2717 feet) height it is the world’s tallest building.

The brilliant lighting of the city contrasts sharply with both the dark Persian Gulf to the northwest, and largely undeveloped and unlit areas to the southeast. Likewise, the clusters of lighting in the Palm Jumeira complex at image top left correspond to the relatively small part of the archipelago that has been developed. Isolated areas of blurred city lights are due to patchy clouds.

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