The Wilkins Ice Shelf, as seen by NASA's Terra spacecraft, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, experienced multiple disintegration events in 2008.

The Wilkins Ice Shelf, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, experienced multiple disintegration events in 2008. By the beginning of 2009, a narrow ice bridge was all that remained to connect the ice shelf to ice fragments fringing nearby Charcot Island. That bridge gave way in early April 2009. Days after the ice bridge rupture, on April 12, 2009, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite acquired this image of the southern base of the ice bridge, where it connected with the remnant ice shelf. Although the ice bridge has played a role in stabilizing the ice fragments in the region, its rupture doesn't guarantee the ice will immediately move away.

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 NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

More information about ASTER is available at

Size:48 by 35 kilometers (30 by 22 miles)
Location: 70.3 degrees South latitude, 73.5 degrees West longitude
Orientation: North up
Image Data: ASTER Bands 1,2, and 3
Original Data Resolution: 15 meters (49.2 feet)
Date Acquired: April 12, 2009

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