In September 2013 the largest solar plant of its kind in the world started producing power in southern California's Mojave Desert near the Nevada border. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System uses 170,000 mirrors to focus the sun's heat on giant boilers atop 120m concrete towers, where water is turned into steam to power turbines that generate electricity. The 392 megawatt plant will generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes. The image was acquired May 30, 2013, covers an area of 14.4 x 15.7 km, and is located at 35.5 degrees north, 115.5 degrees west.
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/.