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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: STS088 Roll: 707 Frame: 6 Mission ID on the Film or image: STS88
Country or Geographic Name: KIRIBATI
Features: TARAWA ATOLL, MAIANA AT.
Center Point: Latitude: 1.0 Longitude: 173.0 (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: 41
Camera Focal Length: 250mm
Camera: HB: Hasselblad
Film: 5069 : Kodak Elite 100S, E6 Reversal, Replaces Lumiere, Warmer in tone vs. Lumiere.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 25 (11-25)
GMT Date: 19981214 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 213218 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 1.8, Longitude: 175.9 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: West
Sun Azimuth: 125 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 209 nautical miles (387 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 44 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 166
CaptionsTarawa and Maiana Atolls
The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation consisting of some 33 atolls near the equator in the central Pacific. Before Europeans found the islands, they had been inhabited for two millennia by indigenous Micronesians. In 1820, the British named the islands the Gilbert Islands, after Captain Thomas Gilbert, who discovered some of the atolls in 1788. The islands eventually gained their independence in the 1970s.
Two of Kiribati’s atolls, Tarawa and Maiana, appear in this image. Tarawa—remembered as the site of a brutal World War II battle—is the larger island. Each island consists of a ring of coral around a central lagoon. This photo shows calm conditions, with clear, still water in each central lagoon, and a light spray of clouds overhead.
Scientists have debated the formation process of coral atolls for many years. Today, coral atolls are appreciated for the insights they provide about climate change. As corals grow, the density of their skeletons varies with the seasons, forming datable layers. Depending on salinity, temperature, and water clarity conditions, the thickness of those growth layers can vary, providing a record of conditions in the tropics.
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .