On April 1 (no joke) NASA announced that it released 2.95 million scenes of our planet made by the instrument ASTER, free of charge.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) is an imaging instrument onboard Terra, the flagship satellite of NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) launched in December 1999. This satellite is a cooperative effort between NASA, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and Japan Space Systems.
ASTER captures high spatial resolution data in 14 bands, from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelengths, and provides stereo viewing capability for digital elevation model creation.

It’s an impressive amount of image data to sift through so we tried to look at the most popular and choose 20 images. Let’s take a look at Earth from above!

1) Manaus, Brazil – is the most popular image in the ASTER gallery

Manaus, Brazil
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

2) Finney County, Kansas – is now irrigated cropland where once there was shortgrass prairie

Finney County, Kansas
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

3) Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia – is an ecological preserve in Namibia’s vast Namib Desert, and is the largest game park in Africa

Namib Desert, Namibia
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

4) Netherlands dikes – sediment-carrying rivers have created a massive delta of islands and waterways in the gaps between coastal dunes

Netherlands Dikes
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

5) Perspective view over the Grand Canyon, Arizona – the Grand Canyon Village is in the lower foreground; the Bright Angel Trail crosses the Tonto Platform, before dropping down to the Colorado Village and then to the Phantom Ranch (green area across the river).

Grand Canyon, Arizona
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

6) Paris, France – covers an area of 23 by 20 km. Known as the City of Light, Paris has been extolled for centuries as one of the great cities of the world

Paris, France
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

7) Arkhangelsk, Russia – is a city and the administrative capital of Archangelsk Oblast, Russia. It is situated on both banks of the Dvina River near where it flows into the White Sea.

Arkhangelsk, Russia
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

8) Saline Valley, California – The UPPER LEFT image displays visible and near infrared bands 3, 2, and 1 in red, green, and blue (RGB). Vegetation appears red, snow and dry salt lakes are white, and exposed rocks are brown, gray, yellow and blue. Rock colors mainly reflect the presence of iron minerals, and variations in albedo. The UPPER RIGHT image displays short wavelength infrared bands 4, 6, and 8 as RGB. In this wavelength region, clay, carbonate, and sulfate minerals have diagnostic absorption features, resulting in distinct colors on the image.

Saline Valley, California
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

9) Mt. Vesuvius, Italy – Vesuvius overlooks the city of Naples and the Bay of Naples in central Italy. In 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted cataclysmically, burying all of the surrounding cites with up to 30 m of ash.

Vesuvius, Italy
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

10) John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida – the John F. Kennedy Space Center, America’s spaceport, is located along Florida’s eastern shore on Cape Canaveral.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

11) Juneau, Alaska – is a port city and the capital of Alaska. It is the commercial and distribution center for the panhandle region of the state.

Juneau, Alaska
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

12) Coal Mining, Germany – On the right side of the image are 3 enormous opencast coal mines. The Hambach opencast coal mine has recently been brought to full output capacity through the addition of the No. 293 giant bucket wheel excavator.

Coal mines, Germany
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

13) Shoemaker Impact Structure, Australia – was previously referred to as Teague Ring (30 km in diameter); it is now named in honor of the late Eugene Shoemaker, a renowned earth and planetary geologist. The precise age of the impact is unknown, but it is estimated between 1000 and 600 million years ago.

Shoemaker impact structure, Australia
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

14) Singapore – s a city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. An island country made up of 63 islands, the country is largely urbanized with very little rain forest left.

Singapore
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

15) Alluvial Fan, China – a vast alluvial fan blossoms across the desolate landscape between the Kunlun and Altun mountain ranges that form the southern border of the Taklimakan Desert in ChinaÔÇÖs XinJiang Province. The left side is the active part of the fan, and appears blue from water currently flowing in the many small streams.

Alluvial fan, China
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

16) Big Sur Fire, California – fires burning near Big Sur, California continued to burn unchecked when ASTER captured this image. In Northern California alone, fires have consumed over 346,000 acres.

Big Sur fire, California
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

17) New York City, New York – shows New York City and the Island of Manhattan, bordered by the Hudson and East Rivers. Parts of Long Island and Staten Island are also visible.

New York City
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

18) The Dead Sea, Israel – is the lowest point on Earth at 418 meters below sea level, and also one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth with a salinity of about 300 parts-per-thousand (nine times greater than ocean salinity). It is located on the border between Jordan and Israel, and is fed by the Jordan River.

Dead Sea, Israel
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

19) Lake Mead and Drought, Nevada – Lake Mead supplies water for Arizona, California, Mexico, and other western states. On June 23, the water level fell to 1075 feet, a record low. In 2000, for comparison, the water level was at 1214 feet.

Lake Mead, Nevada
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

20) Lena River, Russia – The Lena River, Russia empties into the Arctic Ocean and forms a delta 400 km wide, and with an area greater than 10,000 km square. The delta is frozen tundra for about 7 months of the year, but spring warming transforms the region into a lush wetland.

Lena River, Russia
Photo: NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Which one will you visit or have visited?

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