Data from the ASTER instrument on NASA's Terra satellite provide views of the L.A. Basin, San Francisco Bay and more.


Imagery from the U.S./Japanese ASTER Mission

Michael Abrams: My name is Michael Abrams. I work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. I'm the U.S. ASTER Science Team Leader. We will begin our flyover the state of California around the southern California area and Catalina Island. We're only looking at the state of California here for you to get an idea of what this data set looks like. This is part of the ASTER digital photography data set. And then the color image that's draped over it is also derived from ASTER optical data. The speed we'll fly at is about the time it actually takes the satellite to cover the same amount of distance.

At the bottom is the island of Catalina with some clouds on its southern shore. We turn over the Palos Verdes peninsula and the L.A. basin, the downtown area. We're pointing directly at the San Gabriel Mountains and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where I'm sitting right now. The sharp boundary between mountains and desert is the San Andreas Fault. The San Joaquin Valley, the "great valley" as it's called, occupies most of the state of California. The San Andreas Fault, a sharp trench, forms the boundary between the Pacific Plate on the west and North America Plate on the east. Approaching now the San Francisco Bay area, the San Andreas Fault is sharply defined in the foreground. We can see San Andreas Lake, from which the fault is named. Approaching the San Francisco Bay peninsula and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, going into Marin County now. As we proceed into northern California, we cross Lake Almanor. In the far distance the hill you see on the horizon is Mount Shasta, rising to over 14,000 feet. Most of it is above the tree line, so you don't get the green color of the vegetation. It's snow-covered the entire year with glaciers. Mount Shasta, one of the active volcanoes in the Cascade Range. With Shastina, the smaller volcano, on its northern flank.

Title: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
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