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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: STS031 Roll: 73 Frame: 54 Mission ID on the Film or image: STS31
Country or Geographic Name: CHINA
Features: PAN-DUST STORM, GRAVITY WAVES
Center Point: Latitude: 40.0 Longitude: 121.0 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Stereo: No (Yes indicates there is an adjacent picture of the same area)
ONC Map ID: JNC Map ID:
CameraCamera Tilt: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 100mm
Camera: HB: Hasselblad
Film: 5017 : Kodak, natural color positive, Ektachrome, X Professional, ASA 64, standard base.
QualityFilm Exposure: Normal
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 25 (11-25)
GMT Date: 19900425 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 222836 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 28.5, Longitude: 118.4 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: North
Sun Azimuth: 80 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 334 nautical miles (619 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 11 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 22
CaptionsDust blowing off the Gobi desert eastward across the China toward the Pacific Ocean is a common event in April. Space Shuttle astronauts have photographed these dusts storms several times. The photographs above, taken by astronauts on April 25, 1990, show a thick blanket of dust that entirely obscures the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. The dust is being transported from west (left) to east (right). The mountainous spine of the peninsula induces gravity waves in the dust cloud on the downwind (east) side.
The mosaic (NASA photos STS31-73-54 (left) and STS31-73-59 (right)) shows a second dust front over the Beijing region (Beijing lies under the northern margin), situated to the north of the main dust. An interpretive map is also provided.
The source of the dust is the vast loess (wind-laid dust) sheet of Inner Mongolia that stretches west from Beijing 1400 km to the Sinkiang border. The climatic gradient is characterized by rapidly decreasing rainfall west from Beijing, from 500 mm/yr to 250 mm/yr only 300 km upwind. Below 250 mm of yearly rainfall, vegetation density is low enough to allow wind deflation of surface dust. Air masses over the Takla Makan Desert of Sinkiang are usually dust laden to some degree. Occasionally, the dust loading becomes heavy and moves as far as Korea (as shown here), and then offshore over the Pacific.
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .