This image from NASA's Terra spacecraft shows the Orapa diamond mine, the world's largest diamond mine by area. The mine is located in Botswana.

The Orapa diamond mine is the world's largest diamond mine by area. The mine is located in Botswana. It is the oldest of four mines operated by the same company, having begun operations in 1971. Orapa is an open pit style of mine, located on two kimberlite pipes. Currently, the Orapa mine annually produces approximately 11 million carats (2200 kg) of diamonds. The Letlhakane diamond mine is also an open pit construction. In 2003, the Letlhakane mine produced 1.06 million carats of diamonds. The Damtshaa diamond mine is the newest of four mines, located on top of four distinct kimberlite pipes of varying ore grade. The mine is forecast to produce about 5 million carats of diamond over the projected 31 year life of the mine. The image was acquired October 5, 2014, covers an area of 28 by 45 km, and is located at 21.3 degrees south, 25.4 degrees east.

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/.

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