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50 Years of space photography

Cameras in spaceNASA: 50 years of photography in space.

I want to take you on a short tour of some of the most famous and awe inspiring photographs NASA astronauts and robotic explorers have made. And I also want to give a short look into photography itself.

I always wondered how astronauts are trained to use all the photography and video equipment they take to space. They use professional gear, off course. But they are not professional photographers. So I am still wondering how they shoot their pictures and how their training works and what it involves. I have requested the photography related training manuals astronauts use at NASA. But I’ll have to wait for a reply to see if they are in the public domain, and if I can get hold of them. Mike Massimino (currently mission specialist on STS-125) is the first astronaut to tweet on twitter from space. He said just prior to the launch of atlantis on mission STS-125:

photo/tv refresher class – how to work all of our photo cameras, video cameras and how to downlink all the photos and videos to Earth 

Extensive training in photography is available to members of all flight crews, during their general training period and during intensive training for specific missions (Jones et al. 1996). Most photographs have been taken by astronauts on a time-available basis. Astronaut photographs are thus a subset of the potential scenes, selected both by opportunity (orbital parameters, lighting, and crew workloads and schedules) and by the training, experience, and interest of the photographers.

But this is very earth specific. A great collection of space based earth photography can be found at The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.


Here are some random things I found while browsing the web.

 

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S125-E-006636 (13 May 2009) --- Astronaut John Grunsfeld, STS-125 mission specialist, uses a still camera at an overhead window on the aft flight deck of Space Shuttle Atlantis during flight day three activities.

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S125-E-007334 (14 May 2009) --- Astronaut Gregory C. Johnson, STS-125 pilot, uses a still camera at an overhead window on the aft flight deck of Space Shuttle Atlantis during flight day four activities.

Cosmonaut Sergei K. Krikalev, Expedition One flight engineer, prepares to photograph some geographic targets of opportunity through a viewing port on the International Space Station's Zvezda Service Module in December of 2000.

Cosmonaut Sergei K. Krikalev, Expedition One flight engineer, prepares to photograph some geographic targets of opportunity through a viewing port on the International Space Station's Zvezda Service Module in December of 2000.

Expedition 13 cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov handles a big (800mm nikkor?) lens.

ISS Expedition 13 cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov handles a big (800mm nikkor?) lens with more photographic equipment on the rack.

Cool video – It’s Gene Carnan carrying around a Hasselblad 500 EL. On the moon (apollo 17).

 


So on to the 10 most inspiring space photographs (according to me, in random order)!

 

#10

Views from Mars

The Von Braun mound on mars. Taken by mars exploration rover spirit with its navigation camera.

Click on Views from Mars for a larger version

Click on Views from Mars for a larger version

#9

Our sun

On September 30, 2001, TRACE observed an M1.0 flare in an active region very near to the solar limb. Fragments of a prominence hovered above the regions, with filamentary dark (relatively cool) material moving along the field lines, which then spread to form this dragon-like bright outline

Our sun

Click on Our sun for a larger version

#8

Aurora Borealis from space

This is a time lapse video made from still images taken by astronaut Don Pettit on the international space station.

#7

Our earth

Almost every astronaut says that earth looks fragile from space. Our atmosphere is razor thin when viewed from space (ISS). We should take better care of our planet.

Our earth

Click on Our earth for a larger version

#6

Jupiter

The great red spot on Jupiter, taken by Voyager 1.

The great red spot

click on The great red spot for a larger version

The Galilean satellite Io floats above the cloud tops of Jupiter in this image captured on the dawn of the new millennium, January 1, 2001 10:00 UTC (spacecraft time), two days after Cassini’s closest approach. The image is deceiving: there are 350,000 kilometers — roughly 2.5 Jupiters — between Io and Jupiter’s clouds. Io is the size of our Moon, and Jupiter is very big.

Click on Jupiter with Io for a larger version

Click on Jupiter with Io for a larger version

#5

Symmetrical International space station

This image shows the ISS after addition of the final pair of solar wings during mission STS-119 (25 march 2009). The ISS is the best example of what can be achieved with international cooperation.

 

 

Symetrical International space station

Click on Symmetrical International space station for a larger version

#4

Our solar system

This is a view of our solar system. These where the last images taken by the Voyager spacecraft. It is the first picture ever taken from outside of our solar system.

Our solar system

Click on Our solar system for a larger version

#3

Sunset on another world

This is an image shot by the panoramic camera on the mars exploration rover Spirit on may 19th 2005. It shows a sunset behind the rim of the Gusev crater on Mars.

Sunset on another world

Click on Sunset on another world for a larger version

#2

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

The deepest portrait of the visible universe ever achieved by humankind. About 10000 galaxies are shown in this one picture. Mind boggling.
See hubblesite.org for more information and high resolution downloads.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

Click on Hubble Ultra Deep Field for large version

#1:

Earthrise

The earth rises above the horizon of the moon.

Taken by astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission on  a Hasselblad 500 EL with 1/250 at f/11. Manual focus should be pretty fast here. Just rotate the ring to infinity and you are good.
This picture really shows how small our world actually is and opens up the mind for bigger ideas. 

Earthrise

Click on earthrise for large version

The only thing I can hope for now is that they will take a professional photographer to the moon (me! me! me!) like they took Harrison H. Schmitt, a geologist, to the moon on December 7, 1972, on Apollo 17.

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