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Space Station Turns 2

Space Station Turns Two
Science: Earth Science

The International Space Station celebrated its second year of permanent habitation in 2002.

Related Links

Space Station Earth Science
Fact Sheet: Crew Earth Observations
Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth
Earth Observatory
Fact Sheet: EarthKAM
EarthKAM Web Site
EarthKam Results
Selected Year 2 Earth Observation Images

During Year 2, astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station took more than 30,000 images of the Earth. The first peer-reviewed research from the International Space Station -- "Space Station Allows Remote Sensing of Earth to within Six Meters" -- was published in Eos, American Geophysical Union, 2002.

For the first time, high-resolution images were obtained by astronauts, with station crews routinely acquiring images of Earth with resolutions of 6 meters (19.7 feet). The crews also collected images in the range of 1- to 10-meter (3.3- to 33-foot) resolution, which is most in demand by the remote sensing community.

The station circles the Earth 16 times a day, with an orbital track that covers more than 75 percent of the planet's surface and 95 percent of its population. The unparallelled view of the constantly changing Earth gave Expedition crewmembers opportunities to view and record many events during Year 2.

IMAGE: Congo fires
Congo fires

May 16, 2002 - Congo Fires

Fire scars and smoke plumes result from biomass burning in the savannas of southern Democratic Republic of Congo. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station observed the seasonal increase in savanna burning, which traditionally peaks in June in southern Democratic Republic of Congo. These fires, likely the result of human activities, are thought to contribute significant emissions to the atmosphere. The darker area in the foreground is a more heavily wooded hillside. Most burning occurs in the grassier savannas, which appear red-brown.

IMAGE: Danube flooding
Danube flooding

Aug. 18, 2002 - Danube Flooding near Vác, Hungary

Images showing some of the devastating European flooding were captured over a period of several days by Expedition Five crewmembers onboard the International Space Station. The photographs show flooding around the Danube Bend area just north of Budapest, Hungary, near the city of Vác.

The flood peaked in Budapest on Aug. 19, 2002, at about 8.5 meters (28 feet), exceeding the previous 1965 flood record. The images show the waters inundating farmland in the flood plain and then receding.

IMAGE: Kolka Glacier collapse
Kolka Glacier collapse

Sept. 20, 2002 - Kolka Glacier Collapse

The crew of the International Space Station observed and documented the result of the catastrophic glacier collapse and landslide that occurred on the northern slope of Mount Kazbek, which is one of the highest mountains in the Caucasus range. The crew captured an image of the intact glacier on Aug. 13, 2002, just weeks before the collapse. On Sept. 20, 2002, the collapse of a hanging glacier from the slope of Mount Dzhimarai-Khokh onto the Kolka Glacier triggered an avalanche of ice and debris that went over the Maili glacier terminus then slid more than 24 kilometers (15 miles). Post-collapse photos captured from onboard the station gave researchers insight into the event.

IMAGE: Hurricane Lili
Hurricane Lili

Oct. 2, 2002 - Hurricane Lili

On Oct. 2, 2002, NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston, Texas, powered down and people along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana prepared for landfall of Hurricane Lili. The storm held special significance for the International Space Station crew orbiting 389 kilometers (210 nautical miles) above -- it delayed that day's launch of the space shuttle that was scheduled to bring them visitors, supplies and hardware. However, the crew gained perspective on Lili by tracking and photographing the hurricane near its peak. In successive late afternoon orbits, the astronauts viewed the storm in the northern Gulf of Mexico and acquired a series dramatic digital photos of Lili's compact storm system, along with details of the structure of its estimated 28-kilometer-wide (15-nautical-mile-wide) eye.

IMAGE: Mount Etna erupts
Mount Etna erupts

Oct. 30, 2002 - Mount Etna Erupts

On Oct. 30, 2002, the International Space Station's Expedition Five crew was able to observe Mount Etna's spectacular eruption and photograph the details of the eruption plume and smoke from fires triggered by the lava as it flowed down the 3,350-meter (11,000-foot) mountain. This was one of Etna's most vigorous eruptions in years. The eruption was triggered by a series of earthquakes on Oct. 27. Although schools were closed and air traffic was diverted because of the ash, no towns or villages were threatened by the lava flow.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 12/16/2002
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