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Fact sheet number: FS-2003-04-49-MSFC
Release date:

Earth Science Toward Exploration Research (ESTER)

Mission: Expedition Seven

Payload Location: Destiny Laboratory High-Quality Optical Window

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kamlesh Lulla, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas


Earth Science Toward Exploration Research (ESTER) is a continuation of handheld photography of weekly uplinked selected sites to record observable Earth surface changes and image ephemeral events such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and plankton blooms.

Orbiting 220 miles or more above the Earth, the International Space Station offers an ideal vantage point for crewmembers to continue observational efforts that began in the early 1960s when space crews first photographed Earth. Every International Space Station crew will make Earth observations. The imagery collected will be added into a database of human observations of Earth from space that spans more than 30 years.

.potential in humans based on mission duration, and determine how long after space flight the increased risk exists.

Flight History/Background

Crew Earth Observations have been conducted on every NASA space mission beginning with Gemini in 1961. Since that time, astronauts have photographed Earth, observing the world's geography and documenting events, such as hurricanes and other natural phenomena.

Over the years, space crews also have documented human impacts on Earth - city growth, agricultural expansion and reservoir construction. The ESTER experiment aboard the Space Station will build on that knowledge.


Today, images of the world from 10, 20 or 30 years ago provide valuable insight into Earth processes and the effects of human developments. Photographic images taken by space crews serve as both primary data on the state of Earth and as secondary data to be combined with images from other satellites in orbit.

Worldwide more than one million users long on to the Astronaut Earth Photography database each year. Through their photography of Earth, Space Station crewmembers will build on the time series of imagery started 35 years ago - ensuring this record of Earth remains unbroken.

More Information

For more information on this experiment, and other Space Station investigations, please visit:

Steve Roy
Public Affairs Office
(256) 544-0034

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