28 February, 2005

karman vortex clouds

karman vortex clouds, originally uploaded by timon and keely.

so, i can't help but post a few satellite images from time to time. i spend a significant part of every week looking at satellite imagery for my work at the american museum of natural history in new york. i can't believe how beautiful the earth still is. looking at it from space is a treat.

this is a real image of clouds. these vortices appeared over alexander selkirk island in the southern pacific ocean. they are called a karman vortex cloud streets and happen every so often when cloud streets encounter an obstacle. in this case, the obstacle is an island that rises precipitously from the surrounding waters, the island̢۪s highest point is nearly a mile (1.6 km) above sea level. as wind-driven clouds encounter the island, they flow around it to form large, spinning eddies.

von karman clouds

the von karman vortices in this image were created when prevailing winds sweeping east across the northern pacific ocean ecountered alaska's aleutian islands. paintings only satellites see, until now.

volcanoes along chilean-argentinean border

aster_volcanoes_artII_lrg, originally uploaded by timon and keely.

this aster satellite image is my favorite computer screen background. i see something different in it everyday. if you look closely you can see individual steep-sided volcanic cones. there are ~1,800 volcanoes scattered across this region, 28 are active.

richat structure

the so-called richat structure is a geological formation in the maur adrar desert in mauritania, africa. it does sort of resemble an impact crater, but actually the richat structure formed when a volcanic dome hardened and gradually eroded, exposing the layers of rock. just in case someone is interested in earth art, here is a good place to start

ganges river delta

ganges river delta, originally uploaded by timon and keely.

this landsat satellite image is of the ganges river as it empties into the bay of bengal. the delta is largely covered with a swamp forest known as the sunderbans, which is where you can find some remaining populastions of the royal bengal tiger. this is also where most of bangladesh lives, one of the world̢۪s most densely populated countries. roughly 120 million people live on the ganges delta under threat of repeated catastrophic floods due to heavy runoff of meltwater from the himalayas, and due to the intense rainfall during the monsoon season. this image looks a little weird, and beautiful, because is it a "false color" image using a specific group of wavelengths (green, infrared, and blue) reflected back to the satellite.

the gates, central park

so, the gates recently opened in central park (if you haven't heard the news already, it seems to be the only thing to talk about locally). the gates is an installation by jean-claude and christo that cost more than $20 million, used 99,155 square meters of fabric, 96.5 kilometers of vinyl tube, and 4,799 metric tons of steel (equivalent to 2/3 of the steel used in the eiffel tower) to erect 7500 "gates" throughout the park. it certainly brought in the tourists and their business. new york is not usually bustling in february. even some of my family from indiana visited this past weekend, the last weekend.

anyway, the day they opened, feb. 12, 2005, the ikonos satellite captured a 1-meter resolution image of the park. this is the best resolution image of central park i've seen yet. if you squint, you can see about two-thirds down on the left edge of the park, the american museum of natural history (turqouse roofs and covers 4 blocks) where i happily go to work.


coahuila mexico, originally uploaded by timon and keely.

i see caterpillars or trilobytes in this image. actually this landscape is part of the sierra madre oriental mountain range, on the border between the coahuila and nuevo leon provinces of mexico.

spiral jetty, utah

Spiral_jetty_utah_9_14_02, originally uploaded by timon and keely.

the spiral jetty is artwork by robert smithson, a monumental earthworks creation off the shore of the great salt lake in utah. this ikonos satellite image actually has a resolution of one meter, though you can't tell here (taken september 12, 2002). the recent and continuing drought in the southwest caused the lake to drop significantly, exposing the jetty, now covered in salt (that's why it's white). the spiral jetty was built in 1970 using black basalt rocks and earth to create a 1500 feet long and 15 feet wide coil that stretches counterclockwise. it is now part of the dia art foundation collection.

plug: if you live in the new york area, the dia: beacon is a fabulous place to dig into conceptual art (diabeacon.org).

issaouane erg, algeria

ISS010-E-13539_lrg[1], originally uploaded by timon and keely.

this sand sea is located in eastern algeria. ergs are vast areas of moving sand with essentially no vegetation. this issaouane erg is considered to be part of the Sahara Desert and is huge (~ 38,000 km2). these complex dunes form star like shapes at their ridges called star dunes, which may be too hard to see in this small image (but look at bottom right). this is not a satellite image like some of the others i've posted, but an photograph taken january 16, 2005 by an astronaut aboard the international space station with a special kodak 760c digital camera and an 800 mm lens.