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Fw: INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION ASTRONAUTS SET NEW STANDARD FOR EARTH PHOTOGRAPHY



Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Kyle Herring
Headquarters, Washington                May 3, 2002
(Phone: 202/358-4504)

Catherine E. Watson
Johnson Space Center, Houston
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

RELEASE: 02-80

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION ASTRONAUTS 
SET NEW STANDARD FOR EARTH PHOTOGRAPHY

     Astronaut photography of the Earth from the 
International Space Station has achieved spatial resolutions 
of less than six meters, an analysis of more than 13,000 
images has shown. This means scientists can use photographs 
taken from the space station to study changes that are 
occurring in very small features on the Earth's surface.

The results of this study are discussed in an article in the 
April 23 edition of the American Geophysical Union journal 
Eos Transactions.

"The sharpness of the photographs taken by the station 
astronauts surprised both them and the scientists on the 
ground," said Dr. Julie Robinson, lead author of the paper 
and a Lockheed Martin scientist in the Earth Sciences and 
Image Analysis Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in 
Houston. "It has really changed our view of how much detail 
humans can photograph from orbit."

The first three resident space station crews took 13,442 
images of the Earth using digital still cameras, 35-mm 
cameras, 70-mm cameras and a variety of lenses. Crewmembers 
were able to produce higher-resolution photographs with the 
high-magnification lenses by learning to compensate for the 
relative motion of the Earth below while pointing cameras 
through a specially built window in the station's Destiny 
Laboratory.

"Astronauts now consciously track the ground when 
photographing the Earth," said Dr. Cynthia Evans, co-author 
of the paper and the manager of the Earth Sciences and Image 
Analysis Laboratory for Lockheed Martin Space Operations. 
"Their digital cameras provide instant feedback, allowing 
crewmembers to refine their tracking and focus techniques. 
Because each crew has demonstrated this capability, we can 
reliably plan for scientific studies that require more 
detailed imagery that might not otherwise be available to 
Earth Science researchers." 

"Since the birth of the space program, astronaut photographs 
of the Earth have engaged the public," Robinson said. 
"Scientists also use these photographs as valuable records of 
the state of the Earth. With new digital technologies, and 
high-resolution capabilities, astronauts on the International 
Space Station continue to acquire Earth imagery that has 
scientific relevance."

A searchable database containing more than 30 years of 
astronaut photography is available on the Web at:
http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/sseop

                          -end-

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