NET PICS: Earth Album

Science  15 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5366, pp. 975c
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5366.975c

An astronaut peering out of a Space Shuttle window in 1988 took this photo of desert winds sweeping southwest across Chad in northern Africa. The image comes from a Web site called Earth from Space: An Astronaut's Views of the Home Planet, based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston (earth.jsc.nasa.gov). Staffers there have culled and added descriptions to more than 450 shots from 300,000 taken during the 90 shuttle missions since 1981. The collection can be browsed by categories such as city or geological feature, turning up everything from Japan's smoking Sakura-Jima volcano to an erosion-streaked delta in deforested Madagascar. Although satellite images may be more detailed, they're generally false-color, and robotic picture-taking often misses interesting features, says NASA's Kamlesh Lulla. The astronauts, however, used ordinary handheld cameras and color film and could snap whatever caught their trained eye.

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