Great Pyramids of Giza
image (103 Kb)
are interested in observing unique human footprints from space,
and especially those reflecting thousands of years of human activities.
The region of the Great Pyramids of Giza — the last remaining wonder
of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — is a favorite target.
Although the Egyptian pyramids have been imaged many times before
by astronauts, each new image provides a unique look at the archeological
monument, depending on the viewing angle from the ISS and the illumination
from the Sun. Giza is a royal burial place, commissioned and built
by pharaohs during the fourth dynasty around 2550 BC. Started by
Khufu, continued by his son Khafre, and later by his son, Menkaure,
the complex also includes many tombs and temples for queens, other
members of royal families and royal attendants.
The low Sun
angle in this image allows for many of the smaller surrounding monuments
to be observed. Further, the sides of the pyramid align with the
cardinal directions. In this view, the shadows form afternoon Sun
provide directional arrows that point west. For scale, the current
length of the large pyramid at the base is 227 meters (745 feet),
and the height is 137 meters (449 feet).
is a rapidly growing region of Cairo. Population growth in Egypt
continues to soar, leading to new construction. New roads for large
new developments are obvious in the desert hills northwest and southwest
of the pyramids. Documenting patterns of urban growth around the
world is a prime science objective for Earth
photography by ISS astronauts.
taken August 18, 2003, with a Kodak DCS760 digital camera equipped
with an 800 mm lens and provided by the Earth Observations Laboratory,
Johnson Space Center. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory 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.