Earth as Art

Icefall, Lambert Glacier, Antarctica

Image taken 12/2/2000

The Lambert Glacier in Antarctica is the world's largest glacier. The focal point of this image is an icefall that feeds into the Lambert Glacier from the vast ice sheet covering the polar plateau. Ice flows like water, albeit much more slowly. Cracks can be seen in this icefall as it bends and twists on its slow-motion descent 1300 feet (400 meters) to the glacier below.

Bolivian Deforestation

Image taken 8/1/2000

Once a vast carpet of healthy vegetation and virgin forest, the Amazon rain forest is changing rapidly. This image of Bolivia shows dramatic deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Loggers have cut long paths into the forest, while ranchers have cleared large blocks for their herds. Fanning out from these clear-cut areas are settlements built in radial arrangements of fields and farms. Healthy vegetation appears bright red in this image.

Ganges River Delta

Image taken 2/28/2000

The Ganges River forms an extensive delta where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. The delta is largely covered with a swamp forest known as the Sunderbans, which is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.

West Fjords

Image taken 6/6/2000

The West Fjords are a series of peninsulas in northwestern Iceland. They represent less than one-eighth the country's land area, but their jagged perimeter accounts for more than half of Iceland's total coastline.

A Unique Photographic Perspective of Our Planet

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have collaborated on a joint initiative called the Landsat project, which has resulted in a collection of stunning images that provide a unique photographic perspective of our planet. The accompanying images are part of the "Earth as Art" Gallery, captured by the Landsat-7 satellite; the latest in a series of satellites that have been working around the clock since 1972 to document Earth's ever-changing landscape.

The primary objective of the Landsat Project is to collect data and imagery of Earth's land mass, coastal boundaries, and coral reefs; providing accurate scientific data for monitoring changes in Earth's land surface and environment. The Earth as Art Gallery highlights specific images that were selected on the basis of aesthetic appeal, with the goal of introducing the general public to the Landsat Program.

The Landsat-7 satellite was launched on April 15, 1999, and orbits the earth at an altitude of approximately 438 miles. The spacecraft is about 14 feet long and nine feet in diameter, and records reflected or emitted energy in the visible and IR wavelengths. These recorded responses are then converted to photographs by the USGS Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. EROS maintains the national archive of remotely sensed images of Earth, and distributes this data to scientists, policy makers, and educators worldwide.

Data is used to study land cover features, urban growth, and the effects of natural and man-made alterations to the land forms.

Each image in the Earth As Art collection covers an area of about 115x115 miles, with the smallest identifiable feature about the size of a tennis court. The images you see here were selected for their photographic appeal, rather than for their scientific value. You can view the entire Gallery online at The EROS Data Center offers high-quality 26x27-inch color prints for $30. For more information, or to order prints, contact the EROS data Center at 800/252-4547.

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