Reliant Park Area of Houston
ISS025-E-008532 (5 Oct. 2010) --- Photographed by an Expedition 25 crew member on the International Space Station, this highly detailed photograph highlights the Reliant Park area of the Houston, Texas “inner loop”, defined as that part of the metropolitan area located within Interstate Highway 610 that rings the downtown area. Reliant Park includes two large sports complexes visible at center, Reliant Stadium and Reliant Astrodome. Houston is the location of the NASA Johnson Space Center (out of frame) and is notable among major US metropolitan areas for its lack of formal zoning ordinances (other forms of regulation play a similar role here). This leads to highly mixed land use within the urban and suburban areas of the city. The land uses adjacent to Reliant Park include large asphalt parking areas, vacant lots with a mixture of green grass cover and brown exposed topsoil, and both single- and multi-family residential areas. A forested area (dark green, lower left) is located less than two kilometers from the parking lots of Reliant Park. This subset of a handheld digital camera image has a spatial resolution of 2-3 meters per pixel (or picture element), making it one of the highest spatial resolution images yet obtained from the space station. Such high image resolution is made possible by using lens “doublers” to increase the optical magnification of camera lenses. As important is active ISS motion compensation by experienced astronauts during photography. Motion compensation requires the astronaut to pan the camera by hand at just the right rate, keeping the object at the same point in the viewfinder. The technique involves bracing oneself against the space station bulkhead to prevent movement related to weightlessness. Early attempts produce a “smeared” image that looks out of focus. Traditional short lens photography is easier because it does not require motion compensation.