This image from NASA's Terra spacecraft shows Cancun, a resort city on the east side of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Cancun, Mexico 1985 for PIA20086
Cancun, Mexico 1985

Cancun is a resort city on the east side of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. In 1970, the population was 120 people. The city began as a tourism project in 1974. Since then, it has undergone a comprehensive transformation from being a fisherman's island surrounded by virgin forest and undiscovered shores to being one of the two most well-known Mexican resorts, along with Acapulco. In 1990 the city had grown to 167,000 inhabitants, and by 2014 to 723,000 inhabitants. These two images show the area on March 28, 1985, acquired by Landsat; and May 14, 2014, acquired by ASTER. The images cover an area of 25 x 36 km, and are located at 21.1 degrees north, 86.8 degrees west.

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

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