[Skip to content]
Browse image
Resolutions offered for this image:
540 x 357 pixels 998 x 659 pixels 540 x 672 pixels 1000 x 659 pixels 540 x 672 pixels 3032 x 2064 pixels 3032 x 2008 pixels 6144 x 4068 pixels 639 x 435 pixels

latitude/longitude of image
Spacecraft nadir point: 31.8° N, 27.6° E

Photo center point: 30.0° N, 31.0° E

Nadir to Photo Center: Southeast

Spacecraft Altitude: 202 nautical miles (374km)
Click for Google map
features and other details
information about camera used
additional formats
Width Height Annotated Cropped Purpose Links
540 pixels 357 pixels Photographic Highlights Download Image
998 pixels 659 pixels Photographic Highlights Download Image
540 pixels 672 pixels Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
1000 pixels 659 pixels No No NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
540 pixels 672 pixels Yes Yes NASA's Earth Observatory web site Download Image
3032 pixels 2064 pixels No No Download Image
3032 pixels 2008 pixels No No Download Image
6144 pixels 4068 pixels No No Presentation Download Image
639 pixels 435 pixels No No Download Image
Other options available:
Download Packaged File
Download a Google Earth KML for this Image
View photo footprint information
Image Caption: As an example of the high resolution imagery achieved from the ISS, this view shows the Great pyramids of Egypt at approximately 6 m resolution. Although the pyramids have been imaged many times by astronauts, the specific combination of look angle, illumination from the sun, and weather conditions created a unique image. The sides of the pyramids face the cardinal directions, and the afternoon sun casts arrow-like shadows that point due East.

The composition of the full photograph--including human developments that are thousands of years old adjacent to extensive new developments--piques the interest of the general public. These types of images are used extensively by educators and students in science, history, geography, political science, and math classes.

ISS007-E-12915, 18 August 2003, 800 mm lens
The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov

All astronauts are interested in observing unique human footprints from space, and especially those reflecting thousands of years of human activities. The region of the Great Pyramids of Giza--the last remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World--is a favorite target. Although the pyramids have been imaged many times before by astronauts (for example: Space Station View of the Pyramids at Giza) , each new image provides a unique look at the archeological monument, depending on the viewing angle from the ISS and the illumination from the sun.

Giza is a royal burial place, commissioned and built by pharaohs during the fourth dynasty around 2550 BC. Started by Khufu, continued by his son Khafre (Khafre pyramid and the Sphinx), and later by his son, Menkaure, the complex also includes many tombs and temples for queens, other members of royal families, and royal attendants.

The low sun angle in this image allows for many of the smaller surrounding monuments to be observed. Further, the sides of the pyramid align with the cardinal directions. In this view, the shadows from afternoon sun provide directional arrows that point east. For scale, the current length of the large pyramid at the base is 227 m (745 ft), and the height is 137 m (449).

Today, Giza is a rapidly growing region of Cairo. Population growth in Egypt continues to soar, leading to new construction. New roads for large new developments are obvious in the desert hills northwest and southwest of the pyramids. Documenting patterns of urban growth around the world is a prime science objective for Earth photography by ISS astronauts.