Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve, seen here in an image from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on the Terra spacecraft on Dec. 30, 2010, is a special site. Located in the Shark Bay World Heritage Site in Western Australia, it is one of the very few places in the world where we can find living stromatolites—the first living examples of structures built by cyanobacteria. Photosynthetic cyanobacteria are thought to have changed the course of life’s evolution on Earth by playing an important role in the oxygenation of Earth’s atmosphere roughly 2.3 billion years ago. Also, NASA and other federal agencies monitor levels of cyanobacteria, as toxic levels of the blue-green algae can have negative effects on health.

ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. The instrument was built by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team handles validation and calibration of the instrument and data products.

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team



影像来源:NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team