COOL IMAGES: Terra Nova

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Science  05 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5467, pp. 767
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5467.767a

A vulcanologist hiking across a lava field has no easy way to tell whether the black crust beneath her feet was formed 10 years or a century ago. But lava flows from past eruptions are laid bare in a thermal infrared satellite view of Mauna Loa in Hawaii (compared to a conventional infrared image). The images were snapped in March by ASTER, a Japanese-made multispectral “zoom lens” with 15- to 90-meter resolution that can, among other things, distinguish rock types. And that's just a small taste of what's anticipated from Terra, NASA's flagship Earth Observation Satellite launched in December (Science, 10 December 1999, p. 2064). ASTER and four other instruments will beam down a daily dose of data on earth processes—some never monitored by satellite before—including cloud formation, air pollution, ice-sheet movements, and heat radiation. For more first-light images, go to terra.nasa.gov/Gallery

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