Originally released Sept. 27, 2010.
North of the present town of Al Hillal, Iraq, in the fertile plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, is the site of the legendary city of Babylon. Once a city-state in ancient Mesopotamia and the capital of the 2nd Millennium BC kingdom of Babylonia, all that remains is a mound of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. It is estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world ca. 1700 BC. By 600 BC, the city was one of the wonders of the ancient world, famous for the Hanging Gardens. The image covers 21 by 23 km, was acquired on October 20, 2004, and is located at 32.5 degrees north latitude, 44.4 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 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, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C.
More information about ASTER is available at http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/.