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Where in the World?

Posted on Fri, November 17, 2017
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Can you identify this body of water? (For the answer, read on.)

An orbital image of the Persian Gulf.

This shallow body of water is fed by the Tigris, Euphrates, and Karun Rivers. It connects to the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea through the Strait of Hormuz. What is its name? Terra-MODIS image courtesy of NASA/GSFC.

You sit down on your couch and turn on your television--the signal that you receive may very well be from a satellite, in orbit hundreds of miles above your living room. Thousands of artificial, man-made satellites are currently orbiting the Earth, for a range of purposes from communications broadcasts (like television) to scientific weather tracking.

Many of the satellites traveling around the Earth are recording orbital imagery of our planet from space. These images are immensely valuable for tracking environmental changes and patterns over time. For example, looking at satellite images allows scientists to track how ice shelves and glaciers around the world are changing. These geographic images are being used to observe hurricanes, monitor crops, track temperatures, and even measure the ozone layer.     

A satelIite image of the ice loss in Glacier National Park, August 17, 1984.

A satelIite image of the ice loss in Glacier National Park, August 17, 1984. Shrinking since at least the early 1900s, the ice cover in Glacier National Park is expected to keep declining until only insignificant lumps remain. Landsat image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

A satelIite image of the ice loss in Glacier National Park, August 23, 2015.

A satelIite image of the ice loss in Glacier National Park, August 23, 2015. Shrinking since at least the early 1900s, the ice cover in Glacier National Park is expected to keep declining until only insignificant lumps remain. Landsat image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Get a more in-depth look at orbital imagery during National Geography Awareness Week. Established by the National Geographic Society, Geography Week was created to foster improved geographic literacy and an understanding of geography’s role in daily life. At the National Air and Space Museum, each year we celebrate the week with Geography From Space, a fun game in which you can identify geographic features on images from different satellites orbiting the Earth. You can try it out  online or at our National Mall building today from 10 am to 3 pm. As for the image above, if you guessed the Persian Gulf, you’re right!