The earth images are captured by Japanese high resolution imaging instrument called ASTER
NASA has released all the Earth images taken by Japanese high resolution imaging instrument aboard Terra spacecraft. A total of 2.95 million satellite images are now accessible to users all over the world at no cost.
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Japanese instrument, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) has been taking images of Earth’s thermal features and monitoring changes on planet’s surface since 1999. That means an extensive database is available for all those who are interested in learning about Earth’s geology and changes to its surface, from the scars of tornado on the Oklahoma landscape to devastation of flooding in Pakistan to volcanic eruptions in Iceland and wildfires in Western US.
“We anticipate a dramatic increase in the number of users of our data, with new and exciting results to come.” Michael Abrams, ASTER’s lead researcher appointed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California said in a statement.
ASTER, the prolific remote sensing instrument, was launched in December 1999 and is a cooperative effort between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The instrument consists of three subsystems and each one is operated in a separate region and has its own telescope.
ASTER provides high resolution images in different spectral bands from visible to thermal infrared wavelength. The resolution of images ranges between 15 to 90 meters and it covers 99% of Earth landmass.
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The data collected by ASTER is used for creating detailed maps of land surface temperature, reflectance and elevations which enables researchers to better predict variability and trends in climate, weather and natural hazards. It has implications for unlimited areas including monitoring potentially active volcanoes, measuring surface heat balance, crop stress, thermal pollution etc.