ISS001 Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Photographic Highlights

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Glacial Retreat: For the crew onboard the International Space Station daylight views of the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere offer fewer opportunities to observe and document land features with onboard cameras. However, South America’s Patagonian Ice Fields and glaciers in the far southern Andes mountains offer beautiful, dynamic features with frequent passes whenever weather conditions permit. On the afternoon of January 3, 2004, the crew took ISS008-E-11807 of the Upsala Glacier in Argentina through a 400mm lens. This is the third largest glacier of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field with an estimated area of over 800 square kilometers. This long, north-south oriented river of ice terminates in the northern arm of Lake Argentino.

A worldwide retreat of glaciers was observed during the twentieth century and most of the Patagonia’s glaciers, including Upsala were no exception. From the late 1960’s to the mid 1990’s the retreat of some parts was in excess of 4 kilometers. The glacier’s retreat appears to be continuing during the Space Station era with visible changes along the terminus noted here when compared with this image taken in December 2000. The crew continues to monitor most of the principal glaciers of Patagonia as science targets for Crew Earth Observations.

For more information on the observed history of Patagonia’s glaciers please see: Historic Fluctuations of Outlet Glaciers from the Patagonian Ice Fields.

Previous views of the Patagonian Ice fields from the International Space Station:
Retreat of San Quentin Glacier
Northern Patagonian Ice Field
Bruggen Glacier

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Rio de Janeiro: A dengue fever outbreak has plagued Rio de Janeiro since January 2002. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease. The elimination of standing water, which is a breeding ground for the mosquitoes, is a primary defense against mosquito-borne diseases like dengue. Removing such water remains a difficult problem in many urban regions.

The International Space Station astronauts took this image (ISS001-ESC-5418) of Rio de Janeiro in December 2000.

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First Image of Earth from the International Space Station: November 2000-A mass of storm clouds was observed and recorded from the International Space Station (ISS) by the Expedition 1 crew members. The picture, made with an Electrical Still Camera (ESC), was the first Earth observation still image downlinked by the three-man crew. Crew members are cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, flight engineer; astronaut William Shepherd, mission commander; and cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko, Soyuz commander.

Because the ISS communication system is still under construction, image files must be compressed at high levels for downlink, resulting in the loss of information. Once communications become fully operational, we anticipate routine exchange of information and Earth imagery from the ISS crew members.

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Rio De La Colonia, Chile: The remote headwaters of the Rio de la Colonia are located on the eastern flank of the Cerro Pared Norte, a high, coastal range of the Andes in southern Chile. This is a but a portion of a larger glaciated region of the Chilean coast located at only 47 degrees South. The river actually begins its flow just off the top of this scene at the foot of the two large, converging, valley glaciers near the center. Some of the numerous lake visible are tinted by the fine glacial sediments suspended in their waters. Note the shards of ice that have calved from the glaciers into the lakes on the left. Also note the shadows of the crest of the over 14,000-foot mountains (lower center).
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Alexandria (Al Iskandariya), Egypt: Alexandria (Al Iskandariya) occupies a T-shaped peninsula and strip of land separating the Mediterranean from Lake Mariout. Originally the town was built upon a mole (stone breakwater) called Heptastadium, which joined the island of Pharos to the mainland. Since then sedimentary deposits have added considerably to the width of the mole. Since 1905, when the city’s 370 thousand inhabitants lived in an area of about 4 km2 between the two harbours, the city (population 4 million) has grown beyond its medieval walls and now occupies an area of about 300 km2. The Mahmudiya Canal, connecting Alexandria with the Nile, runs to the south of the city and, by a series of locks, enters the harbour of the principal port of Egypt (note ships). The reddish and ochre polygons west of Lake Mariout are salt-evaporation, chemical-storage, and water-treatment ponds within the coastal lagoon.

Some variation in water color seen in Mex Bay and the Western Harbour is due to municipal and industrial waste water entering the Mediterranean. The total cumulative volume of waste water disposed of into the sea from all point sources along this stretch of coast is about equal to the Nile outflow from the Rosetta outlet: roughly 9 million m3/day; that is, 3.33 km3/yr. Two thirds of the city waste water is released into Lake Mariout and subsequently pumped into Mex Bay, along with agricultural runoff from the northwestern delta. A few hundred meters from the foundered Pharos lighthouse, 200,000 m3 of waste water enter the sea each day at Qait Bey. The city government is building water treatment facilities and working to mitigate water-quality problems and to protect antiquities.

Alexandria was founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great and served as the capital of Egypt for more than 1,000 years. The ruins of Pharos, the first lighthouse and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, now lie beneath the Mediterranean. In about 295 B.C. Ptolemy I Soter began to construct the Great Library at Alexandria, the premier intellectual resource of the age; it was later destroyed by the caliph Umar in 640 A.D. The new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, being constructed by the Egyptian government in cooperation with UNESCO, is nearing completion and is due to open in spring, 2001.

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Erosion by Ice and Water in the Southern Andes: This scene on the remote, rugged Argentine/Chilean border in the far southern Andes Mountains offers numerous, dramatic examples of both erosional processes and features of ice and water. The sharp, glaciated crest of the Cerro San Lorenzo (center) exceeds 12,000 feet and casts a long shadow southeastward. Glaciers on its western flank flow into the valley.

Lago Pueyrredon, and the other lakes visible here, have been excavated by geologically recent episodes of glacier erosion, when glaciers extended all the way onto the lowland plains (top right). Since the last melting of the glaciers (~15,000 years ago) three distinct "fan-deltas" (semicircular features-arrows) have formed where rivers flow into the lake. Counterclockwise currents in the lake-driven by strong winds from the west-have generated thin sand spits from each fan-delta. The largest spit (attached to the largest fan-delta, see right arrow) has isolated an approximately 10-kilometer long segment of the south end of the lake. This river, which has constructed the large fan, presently discharges turbid water to this isolated basin, giving it a lighter color than the rest of the lake.

This Electronic Still Camera photo was taken from the International Space Station, in December 2000 (late spring) when most of the previous winter's snow had melted below an altitude of 6,000 feet. Little evidence of man's presence can be found in this rough, desolate region.

Glacial data collected over the past 50 years indicate that small ice bodies are disappearing at accelerated rates. (EOS, vol 81, no. 24, June 13, 2000) Predictions are that large fluctuations in land ice, with significant implications to society, are possible in the coming decades and centuries due to natural and anthropogenic climate change. Before glacial data can be used to address critical problems pertaining to the world's economic and environmental health, more detailed information about such glaciers is needed. Images like this from the International Space Station can be added to those taken from satellites (Landsat-7, instruments on the Terra satellite launched in 1999) to build data sets of glaciers in remote areas around the world.

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Popocatepetl from the Space Station: Popocatépetl, or Popo, the active volcano located about 70 km southeast of Mexico City, sends a plume south on January 23, 2001. The astronaut crew on the International Space Station Alpha observed and recorded this image as they orbited to the northeast of the volcano. Popo has been frequently active for six years. On this day, the eruption plume reportedly rose to more than 9 km above sea level [for reference, Popo’s summit elevation is 5426 m (17,800 feet)]. Note the smaller ash plume below the main plume. The perspective from the ISS allowed the astronauts this unique 3 dimensional view.

Popo is situated between two large population centers: Mexico City (more than 18 million people, and just off the image to the right) and Puebla (about 1.2 million people). The region’s dense population provides the potential for extreme impacts from volcanic hazards. Recent eruptions have been frequent, and have resulted in evacuations around the mountain.

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Window Observational Research Facility: The Space Shuttle Atlantis landed today (February 20, 2001) after a 13 day mission. During this flight, the shuttle astronauts installed a new science module, the Destiny Laboratory, on the International Space Station. The laboratory features an earth-observing window with the highest quality optics ever flown on a human-occupied spacecraft.
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San Francisco from the International Space Station: This image shows a photograph of San Francisco taken as the International Space Station passed 383 km overhead on November 10, 2000. It was taken by astronauts looking out one of the station windows using 35 mm film and a 400 mm lens. The view includes the area stretching from the Golden Gate Bridge in the north to the San Mateo Bridge on the southeast.

In the full-resolution version major landmarks are easily distinguished, and wider streets such as Van Ness and Geary can be easily distinguished from the less distinct grid of smaller streets. Digitized from film at high resolution, each pixel in this image represents 14.6 m on the ground.

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City of Djibouti, Djibouti, December 2000: Scarcely 100 years old, Djibouti, the capital city of the country of Djibouti, can be seen in this northeast-looking view taken with a 400 mm lens. Djibouti sits on the western shore of an isthmus in the Gulf of Tadjoura, an arm of the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti is surrounded a rugged and bleak landscape, that has a dry and hot climate. The population of Djibouti has grown from an estimated 96000 in 1973 to over 330000 in 1991 mainly due to the influx of refugees from the neighboring, war torn countries of Ethiopia and Somalia. With its strategically located port, Djibouti’s economic importance results from the large transit trade it enjoys as the terminus of a railroad line from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. The city has seen an increase in tourism in the past decade due a large number of cruise ships visiting the port. Besides tourism, salt production and shipbuilding and repair are other major industries. Below the center of the image, the long runway of the Djibouti/Ambouli International Airport is visible.
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