The Komodo dragon is the world's largest lizard species. It is found mainly on the Indonesian islands of Komodo, Rintja, Padar, and Flores in the Komodo National Park. They exist nowhere else in the world; they reach lengths of up to 3 meters or more, and weigh up to 70 kg. Their large size is attributed to island gigantism, since there are no other carnivorous animals to fill the niche on the islands where they live. These reptiles are swift runners and climbers with great appetites for deer and wild boar. There are only an estimated 1000 to 5000 of these monitor lizards living today.
The image was acquired 20 July 2000, covers an area of 43.8 x 55.5 km, and is located at 8.7 degrees south latitude, 119.5 degrees east longitude.
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 http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.