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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: ISS032 Roll: E Frame: 9123 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS032
Country or Geographic Name: EGYPT
Features: PYRAMIDS OF GIZA, KAFR GHATATI, MONSHAAT AL BAKKARI, DESERT
Center Point: Latitude: 30.0 Longitude: 31.1 (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: 04
Camera Focal Length: 1200mm
Camera: N4: Nikon D3X
Film: 6048E : 6048 x 4032 pixel CMOS sensor, 35.9mm x 24.0mm, total pixels: 25.72 million, Nikon FX format.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)
GMT Date: 20120725 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 072145 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 29.8, Longitude: 31.3 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Northwest
Sun Azimuth: 96 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 216 nautical miles (400 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 53 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
CaptionsPyramids at Giza, Egypt
Note: This caption refers to the image versions labeled "NASA's Earth Observatory web site".
The Great Pyramids at Giza (image center) are the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and are perhaps the most famous of the ancient monuments in the Nile River Delta region of Egypt. They are also a favorite subject of photography from orbit – particularly when high resolution imagery can be obtained. This subset of a larger astronaut photograph illustrates the degree of detail visible from the International Space Station using a long focal length lens to provide high magnification of the land surface. With good sun illumination of the scene and a steady hand on the camera to track the feature of interest, current off-the-shelf digital cameras on board the ISS can obtain detailed imagery to rival that of automated satellite sensor systems in orbit.
The southeast-facing sides of the pyramids of the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure are all brightly illuminated by the sun, while the northwest facing sides are in shadow. This shadowing also highlights smaller unfinished pyramids to the south of Menkaure’s pyramid, as well as fields of rectangular flat roofed mastabas (tombs) to the east and west of Khufu’s pyramid. While not as grand as the pyramids, mastabas were the burial places of prominent persons during the periods of the ancient pharaohs. To the southeast of Khufu’s pyramid, the head and rear haunches of the Sphinx are also visible (albeit not clearly).
It is a short distance between the glories of ancient Egypt and the modern Cairo metropolitan area to the north and east. The green vegetation of a hotel golf course (image right), and the numerous building and streets of El Giza, provide stark contrast to the bare rock and soil of the adjacent desert. Roadways visible in the desert (image left) connect the urban regions to the east with further development to the north (not shown).
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .