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Capturing Earth's Geography From Space

Posted on Fri, November 16, 2018
  • by: Hillary Brady, Digital Experiences
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If you’ve been testing your know-how with this year’s Geography From Space quiz, you will have encountered some amazingly detailed images of Earth, taken from a range of satellites, or even the International Space Station. These images provide scientists with crucial data which tracks weather patterns, climate change, and natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires.

Before you review your #GeographyFromSpace answers below, learn more about how instruments captured these important images.

  • Terra Instruments: The Terra satellite, which launched in 1999, carries five instruments that take measurements of Earth at the same time. Its five sensors (ASTER, CERES, MISR, MODIS, MOPITT) observe a wide range of things, including the clouds, oceans, ice and snow, as well as carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.

    Terra itself is the size of a small school bus, and orbits the Earth 16 times a day. The satellite’s multiple instruments make observations simultaneously, which lets scientists compare different measurements, and study Earth over time.
     
  • Landsat 8: Landsat satellites have been monitoring the Earth since 1972. Tens of billions of square kilometers of the Earth have been covered by Landsat sensors and this imagery has provided invaluable information to scientists. The Landsat 8 satellite is the latest in the Landsat project and launched in 2013.
     
  • Suomi-NPP: The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (named for groundbreaking satellite meteorologist Verner E. Suomi) launched in 2011. Its instruments collect data on weather and long-term climate change, building on data collected by NASA’s Earth Observing Systems satellites.
     
  • Earth Observing-1 (EO-1): Though EO-1 was initially a one-year mission to test satellite observation technology, the instrument collected data for 17 years before it was deactivated in the spring of 2017. While in orbit above Earth, EO-1 mapped lava flows from space, tracked the re-growth of forests in the Amazon, and captured images of New Orleans floodwaters after Hurricane Katrina.
     
  • International Space Station: Multiple instruments take images of Earth from aboard the ISS—there is even one that you can control from home! The Sally Ride EarthKAM lets students take photos of Earth from a digital camera mounted on the space station.

Did you miss any of this week’s Geography From Space quiz questions? Test your knowledge below:  

  • This Asian country in this image is made up of numerous islands, and the largest island is Luzon.

    This Asian country in this image is made up of numerous islands, and the largest island is Luzon. What is the name of the country? 

    A: Japan

    B: Philippines

    C: South Korea

    Credit: TERRA-MODIS image via NASA 

  • What peninsula, pictured here, is bordered on the west by the Red Sea and on the east by the Persian Gulf?

    What peninsula, pictured here, is bordered on the west by the Red Sea and on the east by the Persian Gulf?

    A: Arabian Peninsula

    B: Sinai Peninsula 

    C: Malay Peninsula

    Credit: Suomi NPP image via NASA Earth Observatory

  • This snow-covered mountain range extends for thousands of miles along the edge of a continent.

    This snow-covered mountain range extends for thousands of miles along the edge of a continent. Do you know what mountain range it is?
    A: Rockies

    B: Andes

    C: Alps

    Credit: Terra-MODIS image via NASA Earth Observatory

  • This small body of water separates Spain from Morocco.

    Look for the arrow in this image taken from the International Space Station. See the narrow strip of water? This small body of water separates Spain from Morocco. Know what it's called?

    A: Strait of Magellan

    B: The Narrows

    C: Strait of Gibraltar  

    Credit: ISS via NASA

     

  • This city (indicated by the red arrow) on the west coast of the United States is connected to Marin County by a famous bridge (white arrow).

    This city (indicated by the red arrow) on the west coast of the United States is connected to Marin County by a famous bridge (white arrow). What is the name of the city?

    A: Los Angeles

    B: Seattle

    C: San Francisco


    Credit: ISS via NASA

  • This is a North American city on the St. Lawrence River southwest of the Ile d’Orléans.

    See the gray-colored area in this photo from the NASA Earth Observatory, in the comments below? This is a North American city on the St. Lawrence River southwest of the Ile d’Orléans. Can you name the city?

    A: Baton Rouge

    B: Quebec City

    C: St. Louis


    Credit: Landsat 8 courtsey of USGS and NASA Earth Observatory

  • Africa’s tallest mountain lies in Tanzania

    Africa’s tallest mountain lies in Tanzania. What is the name of that mountain?

    A: Mt. Kilimanjaro

    B: Mt. Everest

    C: Mt. Shasta

    Credit: E0-1 image via NASA Earth Observatory

     

  • The self-governing British territory pictured is located 650 miles east of the North Carolina coast. Its capital is Hamilton

    The self-governing British territory pictured is located 650 miles east of the North Carolina coast. Its capital is Hamilton. Can you name this island territory?

    A: Aruba

    B: Cayman Islands

    C: Bermuda


    Credit: Terra-Aster, via NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems
     


Answers

1.  Philippines

2.  Arabian Peninsula

3.  Andes

4.  Strait of Gibraltar

5.  San Francisco

6.  Québec City

7.  Mt. Kilimanjaro

8.  Bermuda

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