[meteorite-list] Breakthrough Map of Antarctica Lays Ground for New Discoveries

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 09:50:11 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <200711271750.JAA13170_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Nov. 27, 2007

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington
grey.hautaluoma-1 at nasa.gov

RELEASE: 07-260


WASHINGTON - A team of researchers from NASA, the U.S. Geological
Survey, the National Science Foundation and the British Antarctic
Survey unveiled a newly completed map of Antarctica today that is
expected to revolutionize research of the continent's frozen

The Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica is a result of NASA's
state-of-the-art satellite technologies and an example of the
prominent role NASA continues to play as a world leader in the
development and flight of Earth-observing satellites.

The map is a realistic, nearly cloudless satellite view of the
continent at a resolution 10 times greater than ever before with
images captured by the NASA-built Landsat 7. With the unprecedented
ability to see features half the size of a basketball court, the
mosaic offers the most geographically accurate, true-color,
high-resolution views of Antarctica to date.

"This mosaic of images opens up a window to the Antarctic that we just
haven't had before," said Robert Bindschadler, chief scientist of the
Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "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
imagery in their research. This innovation is like watching
high-definition TV in living color versus watching the picture on a
grainy black-and-white television. These scenes don't just give us a
snapshot, they provide a time-lapse historical record of how
Antarctica has changed and will enable us to continue to watch
changes unfold."

Researchers can use the detailed map to better plan scientific
expeditions. The mosaic's higher resolution gives researchers a
clearer view over most of the continent to help interpret changes in
land elevation in hard-to-access areas. Scientists also think the
true-color mosaic will help geologists better map various rock
formations and types.

To construct the new Antarctic map, researchers pieced together more
than a thousand images from three years of Landsat satellite
observations. The resulting mosaic gives researchers and the public a
new way to explore Antarctica through a free, public-accessWeb
portal. Eight different versions of the full mosaic are available to

In 1972, the first satellite images of the Antarctic became available
with the launch of NASA's Earth Resources Technology Satellite (later
renamed Landsat). The series of Landsat satellites have provided the
longest, continuous global record of land surface and its historical
changes in existence. Prior to these satellite views, researchers had
to rely on airplanes and survey ships to map Antarctica's ice-covered

Images from the Landsat program, now managed by the U.S. Geological
Survey, led to more precise and efficient research results as the
resolution of digital images improved over the years with upgraded
instruments on each new Earth-observing satellite.

"We have significantly improved our ability to extract useful
information from satellites as embodied in this Antarctic mosaic
project," said Ray Byrnes, liaison for satellite missions at the U.S.
Geological Survey in Reston, Va. "As technology progressed, so have
the satellites and their image resolution capability. The first three
in the Landsat series were limited in comparison to Landsats 4, 5,
and 7."

Bindschadler, who conceived the project, initiated NASA's collection
of images of Antarctica for the mosaic project in 1999. He and NASA
colleagues selected the images that make up the mosaic and developed
new techniques to interpret the image data tailored to the project.
The mosaic is made up of about 1,100 images from Landsat 7, nearly
all of which were captured between 1999 and 2001. The collage
contains almost no gaps in the landscape, other than a doughnut
hole-shaped area at the South Pole, and shows virtually no seams.

"The mosaic represents an important U.S.-U.K. collaboration and is a
major contribution to the International Polar Year," said Andrew
Fleming of British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England. "Over
60,000 scientists are involved in the global International Polar Year
initiative to understand our world. I have no doubt that polar
researchers will find this mosaic, one of the first outcomes of that
initiative, invaluable for planning science campaigns."

NASA has 14 Earth-observing satellites in orbit with activities that
have direct benefit to humankind. After NASA develops and tests new
technologies, the agency transfers activities to other federal
agencies for vital meteorology and climate satellite services. The
satellites have helped revolutionize the information that emergency
officials have to respond to natural disasters like hurricanes and

The Landsat Image Mosaic of Antarctica is now available on the Web at:


For related images and information about LIMA and the interagency team
on the Web, visit:


For educational materials related to the new Antarctic mosaic on the
Web, visit:


Received on Tue 27 Nov 2007 12:50:11 PM PST

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