This image of the San Francisco Bay region was acquired on March 3, 2000 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA's Terra satellite. 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 Earth for the next 6 years to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet.
Image: This image covers an area 60 kilometers (37 miles) wide and 75 kilometers (47 miles) long in three bands of the reflected visible and infrared wavelength region. The combination of bands portrays vegetation in red, and urban areas in gray. Sediment in the Suisun Bay, San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean shows up as lighter shades of blue. Along the west coast of the San Francisco Peninsula, strong surf can be seen as a white fringe along the shoreline. A powerful rip tide is visible extending westward from Daly City into the Pacific Ocean. In the lower right corner, the wetlands of the South San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge appear as large dark blue and brown polygons. The high spatial resolution of ASTER allows fine detail to be observed in the scene. The main bridges of the area (San Mateo, San Francisco-Oakland Bay, Golden Gate, Richmond-San Rafael, Benicia-Martinez, and Carquinez) are easily picked out, connecting the different communities in the Bay area. Shadows of the towers along the Bay Bridge can be seen over the adjacent bay water. With enlargement the entire road network can be easily mapped; individual buildings are visible, including the shadows of the high-rises in downtown San Francisco.
Inset: This enlargement of the San Francisco Airport highlights the high spatial resolution of ASTER. With further enlargement and careful examination, airplanes can be seen at the terminals.
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.