Saturday, March 1, 2008

Earth as You've Never Seen it

Awe-inspiring images of our planet erupting, melting and more

A Collision Created the Andes: The world’s longest mountain range, the Andes, flanks the western coast of South America, which is colliding with the ocean floor. Because the rocks forming the continents are lighter than the oceanic crust, the Andes rise up as the floor of the Pacific Ocean slides beneath South America at a rate of about four inches a year. In this image, the colors reflect altitude. The highest mountains are white, while the black bands along the coast represent the deepening sea. Photo by Various Stallites

For centuries, explorers have risked their lives to reach far-flung corners of the planet. Today, satellites provide incredibly sharp images of nearly every spot on Earth, so anyone can sit back and view hard-to-reach places from the comfort of their own home.

Harvesting data from high-tech sensors on various international satellites, Germany’s space-research agency, DLR, compiled these awe-inspiring and enlightening images of islands, mountains and glaciers across the seven continents. Together they are a record of our planet in action—erupting, melting, colliding, cracking. Here, a look at some of the most impressive satellite images of the past 20 years.

This article was originally published in the inaugural issue of Science Illustrated, a recently launched sister publication of Popular Science. Like what you see? Subscribe today at

Original here

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