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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: STS098 Roll: 712 Frame: 29 Mission ID on the Film or image: STS98
Country or Geographic Name: SPAIN
Features: STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR, SUNGLINT
Center Point Latitude: 36.0 Center Point Longitude: -5.5 (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: 51
Camera Focal Length: 100mm
Camera: HB: Hasselblad
Film: 5069 : Kodak Elite 100S, E6 Reversal, Replaces Lumiere, Warmer in tone vs. Lumiere.
Percentage of Cloud Cover: 10 (0-10)
NadirGMT Date: 20010218 (YYYYMMDD) GMT Time: 144259 (HHMMSS)
Nadir Point Latitude: 39.0, Longitude: -2.7 (Negative numbers indicate south for latitude and west for longitude)
Nadir to Photo Center Direction: Southwest
Sun Azimuth: 220 (Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point)
Spacecraft Altitude: 198 nautical miles (367 km)
Sun Elevation Angle: 30 (Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point)
Orbit Number: 168
CaptionsThis photograph was taken by the STS-98 astronaut crew as they passed over the western Mediterranean region near sunset on February 19, 2001. Two packets of tidally-generated internal waves are highlighted by sun glinting off the surface waters in the Strait of Gibraltar. The older packet (labeled) contains at least 14 waves, which can be counted like tree rings. A younger group is forming near the middle of the strait (marked by the carat south of Gibraltar). The waves are generated as a diurnal tidal pulse flows over the shallow Camarinal Sill at Gibraltar. The waves flow eastward, refract around coastal features; can be traced for as much as 150 km, and sometimes create interference patterns with refracted waves.
Surface water patterns can be observed by astronauts in low-Earth orbit in the sunglint: the sun reflects and is differentially scattered off the water surface. The strength of the reflection is determined by the surfactant layer, which can dampen capillary waves and change the surface texture of the water. Different types of near-surface water structures act to locally concentrate or thin the surfactant layer, which, depending on the instantaneous geometry of the Sun, the Earth and the spacecraft, show up as brighter and darker regions on the water. Although sunglint effectively masks true water color, the sunglint patterns reveal surface water dynamics like eddies, current boundaries and even deeper water features like internal waves that are otherwise invisible. Sunglint also effectively traces land-water boundaries. The bright regions in Spain and Morocco are reservoirs, rivers and lakes.
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Recommended Citation: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." .