This amazing image might look like a computer generated graphic, but it’s actually a composite photograph by NASA showing India’s population growth over the years. The white areas show the illumination visible in the country prior to 1992, while the blue, green, and red lights indicate new lights that became visible in 1992, 1998, and 2003, respectively. The four photos were tinted and then combined into an image that reveals where new populations are appearing. NASA definitely needs to do one for every country!
Sending cameras to the edges of space on a weather balloon has become a pretty popular activity as of late, but up to now people were mostly sending up cell phones, compact cameras, and small HD video cameras (e.g. GoPros). While those devices are light and relatively cheap, the quality of images produced isn’t the best.
Well, Texas Tech students Erich Leeth and Terry Presley recently decided to step things up a notch by using a Nikon D300s and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens for their space photography. Their craft, which consisted of a 22-foot weather balloon filled with helium and a styrofoam beer cooler purchased from Walmart, rose to an estimated 100K feet before the balloon popped. A parachute then brought the pricey gear safely back down to Earth. The entire project took just 13 days from start to finish, and the duo managed to capture some pretty neat photos from the edge of space.
Forget sending cameras up to the edges of space on a weather balloon: rockets are much, much cooler (and faster). A man named Derek Deville created a homemade rocket in an effort to win The Carmack Prize, which offers $10K to anyone who can launch a rocket to above 100K feet, take a GPS reading, and then recover the vehicle. Although he failed to take a GPS reading, Deville’s rocket managed to reach 121,000ft (~23 miles) in 84 seconds.
What’s awesome is that he also attached two HD cameras to the rocket to document what the journey looks like. The side view captured by a FlipHD starts at 2:49, while footage from a GoPro pointed straight down starts at 5:15.
While we’re on the subject of photos of Earth, did you know that the first photo showing the entire planet was captured by an unmanned NASA orbiter from the moon back in 1966? To accomplish this, they had to come up with a camera that could expose, process, scan, and transmit film photographs — something “akin to a flying television station and photographic mini-lab”. Read more…
As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, NASA has published a satellite photograph of Earth to its Flickr stream in which the storm is clearly visible. The storm has a diameter of 510 miles — roughly 1/3 the length of the East Coast — so it could probably be seen very clearly from someone standing on the moon. President Obama is warning Americans that the hurricane could be of “historic proportions”.
Photographer Murray Fredericks took sixteen solo trips over eight years to the center of Lake Eyre in Australia, the largest lake in the country and one that forms salt flats every year when the water evaporates. These salt flats provide a perfectly flat, featureless landscape that extends to infinity in every direction, and allow for beautiful abstract photographs. Read more…
One amazing perk that comes with being a NASA astronaut is that you can watch meteor showers up close and from above. Astronaut Ron Garan captured this awesome photograph from the International Space Station of a Perseid meteor burning up in our atmosphere.
By the way, did you notice the hot pixels littering the frame? That’s probably why NASA sometimes only uses DSLRs once before too many pixels are destroyed by space radiation.
Ever wonder what the bulky white coverings NASA uses on its DSLRs is for? Popular Photography sent the agency some questions regarding its use of the Nikon D2Xs, and found out some interesting details about astronaut photo gear:
The equipment under the thermal blanket is a Nikon SB-800 flash in a custom housing that is used during a spacewalk (EVA). The flash needed a special housing because it will not work properly in the vacuum of space. The housing holds air pressure so that the flash will function properly. There is also a bracket on the bottom (covered with a white thermal blanket) that the camera and flash mount to.
[...] The D2Xs used for flight has the same firmware modifications and a lubricant modification. Other than that it is the same as buying it from the store.
They also state that because of the damage inflicted on the camera sensors by the radiation in space, sometimes the cameras are only used on one mission before too many pixels are destroyed for them to be used again.
Don’t want people using photos of your private island without permission? Watermark it! Billionaire Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan had his name carved into the sand of his island in the Persian Gulf. The giant “HAMAD” is two miles long and half a mile tall, is partially filled with water from the Persian Gulf, and can be clearly seen in photographs of the region capture by satellite. Gives new meaning to the term “watermark”, eh?
As Space Shuttle Atlantis left the International Space Station to head back to Earth for the final time, one of the astronauts on the ISS captured this beautiful image of the shuttle’s glowing re-entry. Any guesses for what shutter speed this was shot at?