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Photo of Houston Area Snapped by Expedition 25 Crew One of Highest Resolution in Station Earth Imagery
ISS025-E-008532: Houston

Photographed by an Expedition 25 crew member on the International Space Station, this highly detailed photograph highlights the Reliant Park area of Houston's inner loop, defined as that part of the metropolitan area located within Interstate Highway 610 that rings the downtown area. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Image Credit: NASA.
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An image of the Houston area taken by the Expedition 25 crew has been determined to be one of the highest resolution measured in crew Earth imagery from the International Space Station.

The detailed photograph highlights the Reliant Park area of Houston’s inner loop. The photo was taken on Oct. 5, 2010.

This 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 taken from the International 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 station 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.

Reliant Park includes two large sports complexes visible at the center of the image, Reliant Astrodome and Reliant Stadium. Built in 1965, the Reliant Astrodome was the world’s first fully enclosed, domed sports stadium. The structure is no longer used for major sporting events. The nearby Reliant Stadium was built in 2002 to host a National Football League team (the Houston Texans) and was the first such structure built with a retractable roof. The roof is in its retracted position in this astronaut photograph, allowing a view of the playing field within the stadium.

The image is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed.

The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet.

Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

› Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth