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(NASA Crew Earth Observations)

Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

Astronaut Photography of Earth - Display Record


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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View ISS033-E-14856.JPG 44502640426 No No
View ISS033-E-14856.JPG 162678540359 Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS033-E-14856.JPG 3650681000665 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View ISS033-E-14856.JPG 4271091440958 No Yes Earth From Space collection
View ISS033-E-14856.JPG 96355442562832 No No

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Mission: ISS033 Roll: E Frame: 14856 Mission ID on the Film or image: ISS033
Country or Geographic Name: QATAR
Center Point: Latitude: 25.0 Longitude: 51.5 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

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


Camera Tilt: 24
Camera Focal Length: 70mm
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: 20121013 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 222750 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 23.4, Longitude: 51.6 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)

Nadir to Photo Center Direction: North
Sun Azimuth: 69 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 216 nautical miles (400 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: -56 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number:


Qatar, Persian Gulf, at Night

Night lights can be very revealing regarding the distribution of people on the landscape. Here the lights of Qatar show the precise demographic geography of the country. The brightest group at image center shows the capital city Doha with the neighboring smaller ports of Ad-Dahira and Umm Sa’id to the north and south, respectively. Even highways and their relative importance can be discerned. Highways are clearly visible leading from the capital west to the Dukhan oil fields, to Saudi Arabia, and to the north of the country--where, judging by the lack of night lights, the population is very low. The relatively minor coast road between the oil fields and the Saudi frontier also stands out. This kind of highly informative human geographic detail is very difficult to discern in daylight images, in which even larger cities, especially in deserts, are hard to see.

Almost the entire island nation of Bahrain appears at lower left, with its capital city Manama nearly as bright as the lights of Doha. The difference in light intensity reflects a difference in population—Doha has 1.45 million inhabitants, while the very dense Manama metro area has a population of 1.2 million.

While some night views are highly informative about a landscape, they can also be difficult and confusing to locate. Astronauts learn to recognize where they are at night by flying over populated places repeatedly, even though coastlines—one of their best geographic indicators—are generally lost to view because water surfaces and unpopulated land surfaces look the same without illumination (such as from a full moon). Thus the thumb-shaped Qatari peninsula, so well-known in Middle Eastern geography, cannot be discerned at all in this night image.

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