Monday, February 10, 2014

Sochi Olympics From Space

For the next few weeks, much of the world will keep its eyes fixed on Sochi as athletes compete on the biggest stage in international sport. While there's plenty of physics happening on the ground, NASA has also chosen to participate from above.

Last week, NASA released several satellite photos of past and present Olympic sites. A variety of satellite programs constantly collect images of the Earth in visible, near-infrared, short-wave infrared, and thermal infrared light among other spectrums. Here's a few of the pictures that capture a different side of this year's Olympic Games:

Sochi, Russia (2014 Winter Olympic Games)

A false color image of the coastal Olympic Cluster in Sochi, Russia taken by a NASA Landsat satellite in 2013.
Image Credit: NASA/Landsat/Tim Assal

Another false-color image of the coastal area for the Olympic Games (notice the same airport on the left side of the image). Red represents vegetation; gray represents building; white represents snow; and the Black Sea sits in the foreground of the image near the bottom. The ASTER mission, a joint mission between the U.S. and Japan, captured the image above.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.

Another false color image, this time of the resort hosting the skiing and snowboarding events in Sochi. You can see several of the ski runs just left of the center of the image.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Turin, Italy (2006 Olympic Games)

A view of the French-Italian border from 2006, including the cities of Lyon, Marseilles, and Torino. The bright light in the top of the image is actually a reflection of the moon on water.
Image Credit: NASA

Sapporo, Japan (1972 Olympic Games)

An image of the ocean near Hokkaido, Japan from 2009 (Sapporo, Japan hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics). The image depicts the merging of two currents (one warmer than the other) and the resulting behavior of phytoplankton. The plankton swirl in the shape of vortices, following the water flow.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

To see some more beautiful satellite images of past Olympic sites, check out NASA's image gallery on flickr.

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