Astronaut photography of the Earth from the International Space Station has achieved resolutions close to those available from commercial remote sensing satellites—with many photographs having spatial resolutions of less than six meters.
Astronauts take the photographs by hand and physically compensate for the motion of the spacecraft relative to the Earth while the images are being acquired. The achievement was highlighted in an article entitled “Space Station Allows Remote Sensing of Earth to within Six Meters” published in Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union. Lines painted on airport runways at the Aswan Airport served to independently validate the spatial resolution of the camera sensor.
For press information, read: International Space Station Astronauts Set New Standard for Earth Photography
For details, see Robinson, J. A. and Evans, C. A. 2002. Space Station Allows Remote Sensing of Earth to within Six Meters. Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 83(17):185, 188.
The image above represents a detailed portion of a digitized NASA photograph STS102-303-17, and was provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.