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Photographing the Earth from the International Space Station

Astronaut Photography of Earth - Display Record

STS039-342-28

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File NameFile Size (bytes)WidthHeightAnnotatedCroppedPurposeComments
View STS039-342-28.JPG 25470540355 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View STS039-342-28.JPG 38961640480 No No ISD 1
View STS039-342-28.JPG 57161417821173 No Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site
View STS039-342-28_2.JPG 20723400263 No No Photographic Highlights
View STS039-342-28.TIF 369001017821173 No No

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Electronic Image Data

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No sound file available.

Identification

Mission: STS039 Roll: 342 Frame: 28 Mission ID on the Film or image: STS39
Country or Geographic Name: AURORA
Features: AUSTRALIS-RED/GREEN PROM
Center Point: Latitude: Longitude: (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:

Camera

Camera Tilt: High Oblique
Camera Focal Length: 35mm
Camera: NK: Nikon 35mm film camera
Film: 5030 : Kodak, natural color negative, Ektapress 5030, ASA 1600,standard base.

Quality

Film Exposure: Normal
Percentage of Cloud Cover: (0-10)

Nadir

GMT Date: 1991____ (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: , Longitude: (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction:
Sun Azimuth: (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: nautical miles (0 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number:

Captions

Red and green colors predominate in this view of the Aurora Australis photographed from the Space Shuttle in May 1991 at the peak of the last geomagnetic maximum. The payload bay and tail of the Shuttle can be seen on the left hand side of the picture. Auroras are caused when high-energy electrons pour down from the Earth’s magnetosphere and collide with atoms. Red aurora occurs from 200 km to as high as 500 km altitude and is caused by the emission of 6300 Angstrom wavelength light from oxygen atoms. Green aurora occurs from about 100 km to 250 km altitude and is caused by the emission of 5577 Angstrom wavelength light from oxygen atoms. The light is emitted when the atoms return to their original unexcited state.

At times of peaks in solar activity, there are more geomagnetic storms and this increases the auroral activity viewed on Earth and by astronauts from orbit. Photographing them requires careful technique with long exposures and fast film (in this case ASA 1600). Such film can only be used on short-duration Shuttle flights and not from the Space Station because it is sensitive to radiation damage in orbit over time. The most recent astronaut photograph of aurora was taken before the April 2001 flurry of solar activity, and showed only a relatively low-energy green glow (see previous Earth Observatory posting).


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