This image reveals a long ribbon of dust stretching out across the Atlantic Ocean. Carried on easterly winds, the dust was transported from western Africa toward South America and the Gulf of Mexico. Each year, dust events like this one either help to replenish mineral nutrients in rainforest soils or create poor air quality in the Americas.
The image was created using data collected by the Suomi NPP satellite on June 25, 2014.
Image courtesy of Norman Kuring, NASA’s Ocean Color Web
An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph over Brasília, Brazil's capital city on May 28, 2014. The modern curves of the city's boulevards resemble the wings of a bird. Between the wings at city center lies the country's national football stadium, the Estado Nacíonal (arrow).
The stadium is also the site of the 2014 World Cup. Renovations on the stadium began in 2010, and it is now one of Brasília's largest buildings.
Photograph courtesy of ISS CEO Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA/JSC
The first major storm of the 2014 hurricane season, Tropical Storm Arthur formed off the coast of southern Florida on July 1. By the following morning it was moving north, hugging the eastern coast of the United States.
NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of the storm on July 3. Reaching the Carolinas, Arthur had grown into a hurricane with winds of 150 kilometers (90 miles) per hour and even stronger gusts. That evening it made landfall over the Outer Banks of North Carolina, bringing heavy rains. Damage from the storm was minimal.
Image courtesy of Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA/GSFC
Sally Ride EarthKAM
Sally Ride EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) is a NASA educational outreach program run by Sally Ride Science. The program was founded by the late astronaut Sally Ride and utilizes a digital camera mounted on a downward-pointing window aboard the International Space Station.
In October 2013, 615 schools and 44,269 students participated in the latest Sally Ride EarthKam mission. Since its inception, EarthKAM has captured nearly 60,000 images of the Earth, which are used as resources to support classes in Earth science, space science, geography, social studies, mathematics, communications, and art. This collection of images can be accessed through the program’s online image gallery.
The October mission took this image over Jordan. The circles were created by center pivot irrigation.
Image courtesy of Sally Ride EarthKAM
A NASA mission, IceBridge is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice. Since 2009, these flights have provided a three-dimensional look at the rapidly changing Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice. On November 19, 2013, IceBridge captured this view of Antarctica’s Taylor Valley, home to the Taylor glacier.
Data collected by IceBridge, help bridge the gap between polar observations made by NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellites (ICESat). ICESAT-1 operated from 2003 to 2009, and ICESat-2 is planned for late 2016.
Photograph courtesy of Michael Studinger, NASA
A thick plume of smoke drifts from the summit of Sakura-jima, one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. It is located on the island of Kyushu, at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay. Sakura-jima erupts several times each year. Most of the eruptions are small, but the larger ones create ash plumes that can rise 3,800 meters (12,000 feet) or more above the 1,040-meter (3,410-foot) summit.
The Landsat 8 satellite captured this image on November 23, 2013.
Image courtesy of Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using Landsat data from the USGS Earth Explorer
NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this image of the volcano Kilauea on August 1, 2013. Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. The large depression at the volcano’s summit is the Kilauea Caldera. On the rim of the caldera is the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the oldest volcano monitoring station in the United States. The pit crater within the caldera is Halema`uma`u, one of Kilauea's most historically active eruption centers. Plumes of gas rise from vents within Halema`uma`u.
Image courtesy of Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon, and NASA EO-1 Team
NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite took this image over New Britain Island, Papua New Guinea, on August 6, 2013. The image provides an interesting view of the eastern portion of the island. A thick ash plume rises from a cone within Rabaul, a pyroclastic shield volcano. This type of volcano is formed mostly by pyroclastic (explosive, rock-fragment) eruptions.
The volcano was named after the town nestled within its large summit crater, also known as a caldera. Rabaul was the provincial capital until an eruption in 1994 destroyed large portions of it with falling ash. Rabaul was also occupied by the Japanese during World War II. Can you find the aerial photograph of Rabaul on display in the Looking at Earth gallery?
Image courtesy of Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data from the NASA EO-1 team
The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite captured these nighttime views of Northern California’s Rim Fire. The fire began on August 17, 2013, in Stanislaus National Forest and six days later entered neighboring Yosemite National Park. By August 26, it had become the 13th largest fire in state history, after devouring over 160,000 acres. The images were acquired by the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The VIIRS has a “day-night band” that is highly sensitive to very low amounts of light, allowing it to detect city lights. The most intense portions of the fire glow brighter than the region’s city lights. Plumes of pale gray smoke drift north
Images courtesy of Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS day-night band data
Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula lies along the boundary between two converging sections of the Earth’s crust. Very geologically active, the peninsula has over a dozen volcanoes and experiences frequent earthquakes and explosive eruptions.
NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image over Kamchatka on July 1, 2013. Four erupting volcanoes are visible: Shiveluch, Bezymianny, Tolbachik, and Kizimen.
Image courtesy of Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA/GSFC
In late June 2013, a heat wave struck the western United States, raising temperatures to near record highs at Death Valley National Park, California. On June 30, the air temperature reached 129.2° Fahrenheit (54° Celsius) at the park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center. The images were created using data collected by the Landsat 8 satellite on that day. The false-color image (right) reveals the surface temperature as measured by the satellite’s Thermal Infrared Sensor. Comparing the two images reveals cooler areas either at higher elevations or covered in vegetation. Death Valley is one of the hottest places on Earth due to its low elevation and sparse plant life.
Images courtesy of Robert Simmon, using Landsat 8 data from the U.S. Geological Survey
Captured by the GeoEye-1 satellite, this image provides an interesting view of some glaciers within the Swiss Alps. These icy canvases were painted by dust, soot, ash, pollen, salt, sand, rocks, and other debris carried by the elements. Scientists study the composition of the debris because it can affect the rate that glaciers retreat.
Image courtesy of DigitalGlobe
A NASA mission, IceBridge is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice. Since 2009, these flights have provided a three-dimensional look at the rapidly changing Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice. On April 12, 2013, IceBridge captured this view of Greenland’s Saunders Island in Baffin Bay.
Data collected by IceBridge help bridge the gap between polar observations made by NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellites (ICESat). ICESAT-1 operated from 2003 to 2009, and ICESat-2 is planned for late 2015.
Photograph courtesy of Michael Studinger
Taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, the photograph reveals Laguna Verde, a salt lake high in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia. Low water levels uncover very different looking sub-basins. Microscopic organisms color the water—the salinity and temperature of each pool determine the type of organisms that will flourish there.
The southern sub-basin (left) contains parallel lines that were once shorelines created by the slow drop in water level. Sunlight reflects off the water in the center basin, and dry portions of the lake floor are white from thick salt deposits.
Photograph courtesy of ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Lab, NASA/JSC
The Nile is the longest river in the world. It has two main tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile, which meet in Khartoum, Sudan. NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite acquired this image over Khartoum on April 26, 2013. Relying on the Nile for irrigation, the city has well-watered crops lining the river banks and creating a patchwork of color in its outskirts.
The White and Blue Niles derive their colors from the sediments they carry. The White Nile is rich in light gray sediments, while the Blue Nile’s are darker.
Image courtesy of Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon, and NASA EO-1 Team
Located on the island of Sicily, Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this image of the volcano on April 18, 2013. Ash and volcanic gases stream from the craters near the volcano’s summit, and recent lava flows cover a large portion of the eastern slope.
Image courtesy of Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 data from the NASA EO-1 Team
Almost five months since it started erupting, lava continues to flow from Tolbachik, a volcano on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula. NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite collected the image on April 5, 2013. An ash plume hangs above the fresh lava flows and the Tolbachinsky Dol, a lava plateau formed during earlier eruptions.
Tolbachik is composed of two overlapping volcanoes, one a shield volcano (Polsky Tolbachick) and the other a stratovolcano (Ostry Tolbachik). While shield volcanoes are gently sloping mounds created by layers of fluid lava, stratovolcanoes are steep-sloped cones made of layers of lava, ash, and rocks.
Kamchatka lies along the boundary between two converging sections of the Earth’s crust. Very geologically active, the peninsula has over a dozen volcanoes and experiences frequent earthquakes and explosive eruptions.
Image courtesy of Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data from the NASA EO-1 Team
UAVs Study Volcanic Plume
In March 2013, NASA researchers used three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to study the gas plume emitted by Costa Rica's Turrialba volcano. Acquired from the military, the UAVs weigh less than 2.2 kilograms (6 pounds) and carry both visible and infrared video cameras. For the project they were equipped with additional instruments to record sulfur dioxide and particle data from within and above the plume. The photograph shows the UAVs with the volcano in the distance.
During the flights, the team coordinated its data gathering with the ASTER instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft, to compare sulfur dioxide data from the satellite to data collected from within the plume. Besides helping improve the remote-sensing capability of satellites, this project also sought to improve computer models of how and where volcanic plumes will travel.
Photograph courtesy of Google/NASA/Matthew Fladeland
Hurricane Isaac at Night
NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite captured this nighttime view of Hurricane Isaac on August 29, 2012. It was taken after the storm made landfall in southeastern Louisiana. The city lights show how people are distributed near the gulf coast.
Satellites have continuously monitored Arctic sea ice since 1979. Over the course of a year, the area covered by the ice changes. The ice melts down to its minimum every summer and builds back up again during the winter. Over the last three decades, scientists have observed a decline per decade of the minimum area and thickness of the sea ice.
2012 Summer Olympic Stadium
This high-resolution image was taken by the GeoEye-1 satellite on August 3, 2011. It reveals construction progress on London's 2012 Olympic Stadium. London and the United Kingdom hosted the 2012 summer Olympic Games, the world's largest sporting event. It featured 302 events in 26 sports and covered 39 disciplines. The Olympic Stadium can accommodate about 80,000 visitors, making it the third largest stadium in Britain. The Opening Ceremony (July 27th) and Closing Ceremony (August 12) were both held at the Olympic Stadium.
A six-year NASA mission, IceBridge is the largest airborne survey of Earth's polar ice. Since 2009, these flights have provided a three-dimensional look at the rapidly changing Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves, and sea ice.
Little Bear Fire
On June 4, 2012, lightning ignited the Little Bear Fire in New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest. Ten days later, 40 percent of the fire was contained, but it had consumed over 37,000 acres. NASA's Earth Observing -1 (EO-1) satellite captured the true-color (left) and false-color (right) images of the fire on June 12. In the false-color view, vegetation is bright green, while sparsely vegetated or bare land is green-yellow. The burn scar appears in shades of red. Places where the fire is actively burning are orange-red. Light gray smoke from the fire is only visible in the true-color image, but white clouds can be seen in both.
Located on Bougainville island, Bagana is one of the most active volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. It emits volcanic gases and thick lava flows frequently. Since the volcano is far from civilization, and hard to reach due to the rugged terrain, satellites provide the only reliable way to monitor its activity.
East African Rift Valley
One of the great tectonic features of Africa, the East African Rift is caused by the fracturing and pulling apart of the Earth's crust. An astronaut aboard the International Space Station captured this view of the rift's eastern branch near Kenya's southern border. The floor of the valley is covered by many nearly parallel fault lines. The diagram (inset) shows how the landscape developed.
Arctic Sea Ice
Satellites have continuously monitored Arctic sea ice since 1979. In recent years, scientists have noticed a rapid decline of the perennial ice cover. Perennial ice, which persists over multiple years, is the oldest and thickest sea ice.
Up the East Coast of North America
The video was created using images taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station on January 29, 2012. This nighttime pass starts just southwest of Mexico, sweeps over the east coast of the United States, and ends to the northeast of Newfoundland. The points of light, from towns and cities, show how people are distributed. The northern lights (greenish glow) dance in the upper atmosphere as the pass finishes near Newfoundland. Also known as aurora borealis, this colorful phenomenon is caused by high-energy particles from the Sun colliding with the Earth's magnetic field.
Afghanistan Dust Storm-
This sequence of images shows a cloud of dust being blown from southern Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea. Strong winds from the north picked up the dust from the dry lakebeds in the Hamun wetlands. Dust storms can occur any time in Afghanistan. On average, the country experiences blowing dust one to two days per month in the winter and six days per month at the height of summer. NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites captured these images.
Images courtesy of Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA/GSFC