NASAs Terra spacecraft shows the Niepolmice Forest in Poland, consisting of six nature reserves.

The Niepolmice Forest in Poland consists of six nature reserves, providing sanctuary for such threatened animals as lynx, wild cats and European Bison. Because of its proximity to Krakow, the old capital of Poland (left side of image), the forest (right side of image, dark red area) was a hunting ground for Polish Royalty beginning in the 13th century. The image was acquired May 25, 2003, covers an area of 29.5 by 48.5 km, and is located at 50 degrees north, 20.4 degrees east.

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of about 50 to 300 feet (15 to 90 meters), 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 in Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.

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