Antarctica from Above: NASA Map Reveals Clear View of Frozen Continent
A team of international scientists has unveiled a mosaic map of Antarctica compiled from satellite images. The new map allows experts and laypersons alike to observe its majestic landscapes online and in stunning clarity.
A brand new map of Antarctica made from a mosaic of over 1,000 satellite images was unveiled Tuesday. The map will help scientists and the curious get a better and clearer view of the ice-covered continent.
The Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica (LIMA) is composed of high-resolution images taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Landsat 7 satellite between 1999 and 2001. It offers accurate, true-color images of the polar region.
"This mosaic of images opens up a window to the Antarctic that we just haven't had before," Robert Bindschadler, chief scientist of the Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. "It will open new windows of opportunity for scientific research as well as enable the public to become much more familiar with Antarctica and how scientists use satellites in their research."
The map provides a resolution of 15 meters (49 feet) per pixel, or 10 times greater than any images captured before. Bindschadler compared the advance provided by the mosaic as being "like watching high-definition TV in living color versus watching the picture on a grainy black-and-white television."
The mosaic will aid scientists and researchers by allowing them to better plan and guide scientific expeditions as well as to follow changes -- such as those caused by global climate change -- more closely and in more remote areas.
The first satellite images of Antarctica were taken in 1972, an improvement over the earlier images taken from planes and survey ships.
The project was undertaken by scientists from NASA, the US Geological Survey, the National Science Foundation and the British Antarctic Survey. The release of the map is meant to coincide with the International Polar Year 2007-2008, during which over 60,000 scientists from around the world will conduct research on the Arctic and Antarctica.
The images can be accessed free online and viewed with a zoom function.
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