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Observing Earth: Amazing Views From Above

Palm Island, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Space Imaging Middle East)

This IKONOS satellite image was collected on July 16, 2004. The image shows this man-made island that lies off the coast of Dubai in the Persian Gulf. The island is being built from 80 million cubic meters of land dredged from the approach channel to the Emirate's Jebel Ali Port. When complete, this resort will have approximately 1,200 single-family and 600 multi-family residences, an aquatic theme park, shopping centers, cinemas and more.

The Great Pyramid, Giza, Egypt

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Digital Globe)

This featured image is a 61-centimeter pan-sharpened image of the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt, collected by QuickBird on February 2, 2002. The Great Pyramid is estimated to have been built circa 2650 B.C., and was erected as a tomb for the Egyptian pharaoh Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty. Upon the completion of its construction, the Great Pyramid stood 145.75 meters (481 feet) high, and over the millennia has lost approximately 10 meters (30 feet) off the top. It stood as the tallest structure on Earth for more than 43 centuries.

Niagara Falls

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Space Imaging)

The image shows the Niagara River that connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, snaking around Goat Island, in the lower left of the full image. Most of the river's water plummets over the Canadian/Horseshoe Falls, but some diverted water spills over American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls downstream. Every second, more than two million liters of water plunges over the Horsehoe Falls segment of Niagara Falls creating one of the world's largest waterfalls as well as eating away as much as two meters of rock per year. The image was acquired August 2, 2004.

Hawaiian Islands

(Image credit: Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC)

A silver swath of sunlight surrounds half of the Hawaiian Islands in this true-color Terra MODIS image acquired on May 27, 2003. Sunlight reveals turbulence in the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean. In this scene, the winds ruffling the water surface around the Hawaiian Islands create varying patterns, leaving some areas calmer than others. From lower right to upper left, the “Big Island” (Hawaii), Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau islands all make up the state of Hawaii, which lies more than 2,000 miles from any other part of the United States. The small red dot on the Big Island’s southeastern side marks a hot spot on Kilauea Volcano’s southern flank.

On Top of the World: Everest and Makalu

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of NASA)

ISS crewmembers took advantage of their vantage point to photograph a series of oblique views of the Himalayas looking south from over the Tibetan Plateau. At first glance, one might think that the image looks like a picture taken from an airplane, until you remember that the summits of Makalu [left (8,462 meters; 27,765 feet)] and Everest [right (8,850 meters; 29,035 feet)] are at the heights typically flown by commercial aircraft. The full mosaic covers over 130 kilometers (80 miles) of the Himalayan front, and could never be seen this way from an airplane. This photo was taken on January 28, 2004.

Ayers Rock (Uluru), Australia

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Space Imaging)

This IKONOS satellite image of Ayers Rock was collected Jan. 17, 2004. Ayers Rock is located in Kata Tjuta National Park, 280 miles (450km) southwest of Alice Springs, Australia. It is the world's largest monolith, an Aboriginal sacred site and Australia's most famous natural landmark.

Earth‘s City Lights

(Image credit: Image by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC, based on DMSP data)

This image of Earth’s city lights, captured on October 19, 2000, was created with data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS). The brightest areas of the Earth are the most urbanized, but not necessarily the most populated. Cities tend to grow along coastlines and transportation networks. The United States interstate highway system appears as a lattice connecting the brighter dots of city centers. In Russia, the Trans-Siberian railroad is a thin line stretching from Moscow through the center of Asia to Vladivostok. The Nile River, from the Aswan Dam to the Mediterranean Sea, is another bright thread through an otherwise dark region.

Tsunami strikes the coast of Sri Lanka

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of Digital Globe)

This is a natural color, 60-centimeter (2-foot) high-resolution QuickBird satellite image featuring the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Imagery was collected on December 26, 2004 at 10:20 a.m. local time, slightly less than four hours after the 6:28 a.m. (local Sri Lanka time) earthquake and shortly after the moment of tsunami impact.

Mount St. Helens, Washington

(Image credit: NASA)

On a Space Station expedition, astronauts observed and captured this detailed image of the volcano’s summit caldera. In the center of the crater sits a lava dome that is 876 feet above the crater floor and is about 3,500 feet in diameter. The dome began to form after the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens. After the eruption, there was not any dome building eruptions for more than a decade. Afternoon lighting accents the flow features in the volcanic and debris flows and the steep valleys eroded into the loosely consolidated material near the summit. This picture was taken on October 25, 2002.

The Nile River

(Image credit: NASA)

This image of the northern portion of the Nile River was captured by the Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer's (MISR's) nadir camera on January 30, 2001. Against the barren desert of northeastern Africa, the fertile valley of the Nile River runs northward through Egypt. The city of Cairo can be seen as a gray smudge right where the river widens into its broad fan-shaped delta. Other cities are dotted across the green landscape, giving it a speckled appearance. Where the Nile empties into the Mediterranean Sea (top) the waters are swirling with color, likely a mixture of sediment, organic matter, and possibly marine plant life. Farther west, the bright blue color of the water is likely less-organically rich sediment, perhaps sand.

Malosmadulu Atolls, Maldives

(Image credit: Image Courtesy of NASA)

North and South Malosmadulu Atolls are in the Maldives, an island republic in the northern Indian Ocean, southwest of India. The Maldives are made up of a chain of 1,192 small coral islands, which are grouped into clusters of atolls. It has a total area of 298 square kilometers and a population of about 330,000. The capital and largest city is Male, with a population of about 80,000. Arguably the lowest-lying country in the world, the average elevation is just 1 meter above sea level. The natural-color ASTER image of the Malosmadulu Atolls was acquired on December 22, 2002, and is centered near 5.3 degrees North latitude, 73.9 degrees West longitude.