Montage of our solar system
Montage of our solar system. Image credit: NASA/JPL

The Gauteng province in South Africa, site of this week's United Nations' second World Summit on Sustainable Development, is seen in newly released images from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory-built and managed Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer instrument aboard NASA's Terra satellite.

The images, taken on June 16, 2002, highlight land use, vegetation and geological features found within the Gauteng province, including the urban center Johannesburg and the capital city Pretoria, as well as parts of the Northwest and Free State provinces.

In the false-color image on the right, red hues show vegetation. Urban areas appear gray in the natural-color view on the left, with areas of green vegetation contrasting with the browns of this arid region. Johannesburg is the greenish area located slightly right of center.

The snaking lines near the center of both images are the Magaliesberg and Witwatersberg mountain ranges, extending from Pretoria in the east to Rustenberg in the west. These mountains separate the hotter lowlands to the north from the cooler highlands to the south. The large, round feature near the northwest corner indicates an ancient volcanic crater managed as the Pilanesberg National Park. Small, bright, nearly-white rectangular patches scattered just southeast and southwest of Johannesburg represent mine sites. This region is the source of 45 percent of all gold ever mined.

Cutting across the bottom of the images is the Vaal River, which leads to large bodies of water contained by the Vaal Dam. This topographic feature delineates the border between the Gauteng and Free State provinces.

Approximately 40,000 to 60,000 participants and 100 world leaders attended the summit, called to address international goals to fight poverty and protect the global environment. These goals were set at the first summit 10 years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer is one of several Earth-observing experiments aboard Terra, launched in December 1999. The instrument acquires images of Earth at nine angles simultaneously, using nine separate cameras pointed forward, downward and backward along its flight path. More information is available at http://www-misr.jpl.nasa.gov/ . The Terra mission is part of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, a long-term research effort dedicated to understanding and protecting our home planet. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


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