Photos From Space
The Himalaya Mountains, including Mt. Everest. (Photo: The Aerospace Corporation)
Last fall the Aerospace Picosat Team invited Aerospace employees to suggest places on Earth to photograph from space, using the picosatellite AeroCube-4C. These are the results.
Kaye Shelnutt and Joanne English asked for a picture of the coast of Israel. The result might well be the most spectacular photograph of the Mideast ever taken from an unclassified satellite. The single picture shot by a camera aboard the AeroCube-4C displays the setting for 5,000 years of recorded history from Egypt to Turkey. Easily identifiable land and water is visible that includes part of Egypt and all of the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Aqaba, the Dead Sea, the historic River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, all of Israel, all of Lebanon, and large parts of Jordan, Syria, Cyprus, and Turkey, as well as the Mediterranean Sea and a portion of Saudi Arabia.
Generally speaking, requests to photograph large land and water masses juxtaposed against each other turned out reasonably well, while requests for land locations without identifying large landmarks produced undifferentiated images.
Dr. George Paulikas, a former Aerospace executive vice president for whom the Paulikas Mall on the Aerospace campus is named, understood this limitation when he submitted a request for a specific longitude and latitude that he identified as his birthplace. The photograph shows an easily recognizable body of water that looks like a fat worm from orbit and is the Kaunas reservoir in Lithuania.
Paulikas could see the river Nemunas leading out of the reservoir and where it passed the small town of Smalininkai. That’s where, he noted, at the age of 8 he used to paddle around on logs, much to the horror of his mother. He was actually born about 25 miles to the west in the town of Pagegiai, but said he “gave the coordinates of Smalininkai thinking it would be more recognizable being right on the river.”