The 2014 Winter Olympic ski runs may be rated double black diamond, but they're not quite as steep as they appear in this image of the skiing and snowboarding sites for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, acquired on Jan. 4, 2014, by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft. Rosa Khutar ski resort near Sochi, Russia, is in the valley at center, and the runs are visible on the shadowed slopes on the left-hand side of the valley. Height has been exaggerated 1.5 times to bring out topographic details. The games, which begin on Feb. 7 and continue for 17 days, feature six new skiing and boarding events plus the return of the legendary Jamaican bobsled team to the winter games for the first time since 2002.
In this southwest-looking image, red indicates vegetation, white is snow, and the resort site appears in gray. The area imaged is about 11 miles (18 kilometers) across in the foreground and 20 miles (32 kilometers) from front to back. The image was created from the ASTER visible and near-infrared bands, draped over ASTER-derived digital elevation data.
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 Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. 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 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 NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.
More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.