Incredible Satilite Pictures

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With their high octane colours and incredible detail they look more like canvassed art than landscapes of the earth.

Captured by some of NASA's most advanced satellites hundreds of miles above the earth, these unusual and striking images show our planet like never before.

Taken between 1999 and 2006, they form part of NASA's Earth Observatory project, which gathers images showing the Earth's climatic and environmental change.

The images range across the globe from Colorado's Rocky Mountains, Lake Disappointment in the Western Australian outback to Mexico's Colima Volcano.

Known as "Earth Art," the US Space Agency will use these images to study the Earth's changing landscape and environment from rising sea levels to deforestation.
An image of Lake Carnegie in Western Australia which fills only during heavy rainfall

In October 1999, The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument on NASA's Landsat satellite captured one "false-colour" image of part of the Rocky Mountain's Minturn Formation. It is called false-colour because filters are applied to the camera to highlight environmental phenomena for the benefit of the researchers.

Over time, the Ancestral Rocky Mountains has completely eroded, leaving Colorado flat. The current Rocky Mountains began to rise about 70 million years ago. Minturn Formation of central Colorado show the mountain-building process pushed areas that were once on the ocean floor high above today's sea level.

In another image, pink indicates bare ground, and green indicates vegetation. Snowy areas are light blue. Pale rivulet patterns in the south-western show where streams drain from the mountains to the adjacent lowlands.
Snow-capped ridges of the eastern Himalayas creating an irregular white-on-red patchwork between rivers and China

Another one taken in July 2000 shows California's Death Valley. At 86 metres (282 feet) below sea level, it is one of the hottest and driest places on the planet. On average, the area sees only about 5 centimetres (1.96 inches) of rain a year, and summer temperatures routinely soar above 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit).

The images allow scientists to understand how plants and animals survive on the punishing environment.

An Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) captures an image in June 2001 in south-western Kansas. Resembling a work of modern art, variegated green crop circles cover what was once short-grass prairie. Each of these crops was at a different point of development when the image was taken, accounting for the varying shades of green and yellow.

The most common crops in this region are corn, wheat, and sorghum. Healthy, growing crops are green, whereas corn would be growing into leafy stalks by late June. Like crops throughout large sections of the US Midwest, these are partly fed by water from the Ogallala Aquifer, a giant layer of underground water.
Surrounded by sand dunes, Lake Disappointment is an ephemeral salt lake in one of the most remote areas of Western Australia

One of the largest underground repositories in the world, the Ogallala Aquifer lies under about 450,000 sq. km of the Great Plains an area that includes parts of eight US states. The water is between 30 and 100 metres below ground, and the amount of water in the aquifer varies greatly from region to region.

Though the aquifer is a reliable source of water for irrigated cropland, NASA scientists and geologists will use these images to explore concerns that it could eventually run dry. The rivers and streams that initially fed the aquifer have long since disappeared in the geologic development of the West after the last ice age.

Like the images of Ogallala Aquifer, Lake Natron, in Africa's Great Rift Valley, practically sends a warning with its colour. This bright red lake is the worlds most caustic body of water. ASTER flying on the Terra satellite captured this image in March 2003.
The Ganges River forms an extensive delta where it empties into the Bay of Bengal

An endemic species of fish, the alkaline tilapia, lives along the edges of the hot-spring inlets, and the lake actually derives its colour from salt-loving micro-organisms that thrive in its alkaline waters.

Another image simulates natural colour, showing where the salt-loving micro-organisms have coloured the lakes salt crust red or pink. The salt crust changes over time, giving the lake a slightly different appearance each time it is photographed by astronauts or imaged by satellites.
Earth Art: A snow-capped Colima Volcano, the most active volcano in Mexico

An alluvial fan, xinjiang province, china covering an area 56.6 x 61.3 km and taken on may 2nd, 2002, this photo shows an alluvial fan that formed on the southern border of the taklimakan desert in china. an alluvial fan usually forms as water leaves a canyon, each new stream eventually closing up due to sediment - the result being a triangle of active and inactive channels. the blue ones on the left are currently active.
Stunning: The images are part of NASA's Earth Observatory project , which show climatic and environmental changes

hurricane isabel, 2003 this terrifying photo of hurricane isabel was taken on the international space station in 2003 and illustrates the immense size of the hurricane's eye. this particular hurricane was the deadliest of 2003 and winds reached 165 mph at its peak.
greenland's eastern coast, august 21st, 2003 the fractal coastline of greenland and its numerous fjords as seen from space. little spots of white in the water seem to be ice originating from the deeper fjords that reach all the way to the icecap covering most of the island
A total solar eclipse from space, 1999 the shadow of the moon covers part of earth on august 11th, 1999 in this photo taken from mir space station. this shadow raced across earth at 2000 km/h, all areas under the centre of it plunged into darkness during a total solar eclipse. this was apparently one the final photos taken from mir.
Egmont national park, new zealand mt. egmont volcano last erupted in 1755 and is now situated at the centre of egmont national park. park regulations have ensured the survival of a forest which extends at a 9.5 km radius from the summit of the volcano, the result of which can be seen from space in the form of huge dark green disc. this photo was taken during the sts-110 mission, april 2002.
mt. etna eruption, october 2001 taken from the international space station in 2001, this is a photo of a particularly violent eruption on the island of sicily which produced a cloud of ash that travelled as far as libya. on the humongous version of the photo lighter coloured smoke can be seen near the volcano - this was caused by lava igniting nearby forests.
Richat structure, mauritania the cause of the richat structure in the sahara desert of mauritania has been debated for many years. at first it was thought to be a meteor impact crater due to its circularity but this has since been disproven due to the lack of shock-altered rock in its vicinity. this massive (30 mile diameter) oddity is now believed to have been a rock dome sculpted over time by erosion. this incredible image was taken by the advanced spaceborne thermal emission and reflection radiometer (aster) on october 7th, 2000.
Retreating glaciers in the bhutan-himalaya a beautiful but clear sign that glaciers are slowly melting due to global warming. easily visible are the ends of most of these glacial valleys' surfaces turning to water to form lakes, a trend which has been noticed only in the last few decades.
sri lankan coast, 26th december 2004 the ocean rapidly retreats 400 metres on the south-western coast of sri lanka, just 5 minutes prior to the arrival of a devastating tsunami.
the swirling waters continue to batter the coast just moments after the main wall of water has hit.

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