These images of the San Francisco Bay region were acquired on March 3, 2000 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite. Each covers an area 60 kilometers (37 miles) wide and 75 kilometers (47 miles) long. 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 will image the Earth for the next 6 years to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet.
Upper Left: The color infrared composite uses bands in the visible and reflected infrared. Vegetation is red, urban areas are gray; sediment in the bays shows up as lighter shades of blue. Thanks to the 15 meter (50-foot) spatial resolution, shadows of the towers along the Bay Bridge can be seen.
Upper right: A composite of bands in the short wave infrared displays differences in soils and rocks in the mountainous areas. Even though these regions appear entirely vegetated in the visible, enough surface shows through openings in the vegetation to allow the ground to be imaged.
Lower left: This composite of multispectral thermal bands shows differences in urban materials in varying colors. Separation of materials is due to differences in thermal emission properties, analogous to colors in the visible.
Lower right: This is a color coded temperature image of water temperature, derived from the thermal bands. Warm waters are in white and yellow, colder waters are blue. Suisun Bay in the upper right is fed directly from the cold Sacramento River. As the water flows through San Pablo and San Francisco Bays on the way to the Pacific, the waters warm up.
Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (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 International Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and the data products. Dr. Anne Kahle at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is the U.S. Science team leader; Moshe Pniel of JPL is the project manager. ASTER is the only high resolution imaging sensor on Terra. The primary goal of the ASTER mission is to obtain high-resolution image data in 14 channels over the entire land surface, as well as black and white stereo images. With revisit time of between 4 and 16 days, ASTER will provide the capability for repeat coverage of changing areas on Earth's surface.
The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER will provide scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping, and monitoring 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.