The USGS has put together a collection of beautiful satellite images entitled Earth as Art and the results are stunning. The image above was acquired from Landsat 7 and depicts the Terkezi Oasis in the Sahara Desert region of Chad. The purple outcrops of bedrock are a stark contrast to the surrounding desert and look like they shield certain areas from sand deposition; perhaps that is why this area is referred to as an oasis. I was not able to find any information on what band combinations were used to generate this picture (a quick overview of "bands" for those unfamiliar with satellite imagery). A quick search on Google Earth shows that the rocks do actually have a purplish tinge to them, so perhaps it is composited from a visible light band combination and just heavily edited for aesthetic purposes. If you are interested in the full collection of Earth as Art the free e-book can be found here.
Seeing as how there is a plethora of satellite data freely available on the USGS database, I am very interested in creating my own artistic pieces from data acquired around the globe. Playing around with band combinations often yields images with pretty wild colors. I think cool aesthetic compositions like this are an excellent way to generate interest in earth processes for the general public and, more importantly, for young people.
Scientist, photographer, and outdoor athlete based in Denver, Colorado. This blog is a place to share science-related news and ideas that I find interesting.