Nearly 500 miles above our heads, a series of satellites continues a silent vigil recording the changes that nature and people impose on planet Earth. Landsat 8 is the latest satellite specifically used to study the status of large swaths of vegetation, how urban development changes the landscape and how much influence natural disasters have on the surrounding area. Scientists display their data using a combination of natural color and infrared images.
While the images tell researchers what they need to know about how Earth changes over time, they also reveal the beauty of our planet. The lush vegetation along mighty rivers, farmland crowded into mountain valleys and windswept ice sheets look like dabs of paint or streaks of color from a satellite's point of view in space.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has compiled some of the more stunning examples into a traveling art exhibition called Earth as Art 4, the fourth in a series of shows since 2002. The collection, which can be viewed in full online, debuted at USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia.
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