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Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS031-E-41959.JPG 40722640425 No No
View ISS031-E-41959.JPG 129273540353 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS031-E-41959.JPG 4197541000654 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS031-E-41959.JPG 78844942882848 No No

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Mission: ISS031 Roll: E Frame: 41959 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS031
Country or Geographic Name: RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Center Point: Latitude: 50.9 Longitude: 155.6 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: 36
Camera Focal Length: 180mm
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: 20120518 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 221028 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 51.7, Longitude: 153.2 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: East
Sun Azimuth: 107 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 213 nautical miles (394 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 38 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number:


Alaid Volcano, Kuril Islands, Russian Federation

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

This astronaut photograph highlights Alaid Volcano in the Kuril Islands. The Kurils chain extends from the Kamchatka Peninsula to the islands of Japan, and contains numerous active volcanoes along its length. Alaid is the highest (2339 meters above sea level) volcano in the Kuril chain, as well as being the northernmost. The textbook conic morphology of this stratovolcano is marred only by the summit crater, which is breached to the south (image center) and highlighted by snow cover. The volcano rises 3000 meters directly from the floor of the Sea of Okhotsk, with the uppermost part of the volcanic edifice exposed as an island.

Much of the sea surface surrounding the volcano has a silver-gray appearance. This mirror-like appearance is due to sunglint, where light reflects off the sea surface and is scattered directly towards the astronaut observer on board the International Space Station. Sunglint is largely absent from a zone directly to the west of the volcano, most likely due to surface wind or water current patterns that change the roughness—and light scattering properties—of the water surface in this area.

Volcanoes in the Kurils, and similar island arcs in the Pacific “ring of fire”, are fed by magma generated along the boundary between two tectonic plates, where one plate is being driven beneath the other (a process known as subduction). Alaid Volcano has been historically active; the most recent confirmed explosive activity occurred in 1996.

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