NASA's Terra spacecraft shows Timbuktu in the West African Nation of Mali, about 15 km north of the Niger River, at the intersection of an east-west and a north-south Trans Saharan trade route across the Sahara.

Timbuktu is in the West African Nation of Mali, about 15 km north of the Niger River, at the intersection of an east-west and a north-south Trans Saharan trade route across the Sahara. It was an intellectual and spiritual capital in the 15th and 16th centuries, and a center for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa. After long years of decline, Timbuktu is still a tourist destination, known for its mosques, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The image was acquired on March 6, 2001, covers an area of 26.8 x 21.5 km, and is located at 16.8 degrees north latitude, 3 degrees west longitude.

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched December 18, 1999, on NASA's Terra satellite. The instrument was built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and the data products.

The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

The U.S. science team is located at JPL, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.

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