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General Information Product 111

Earth as Art Three

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Introduction

For most of us, deserts, mountains, river valleys, coastlines—even dry lakebeds—are relatively familiar features of the Earth’s terrestrial environment. For earth scientists, they are the focus of considerable scientific research. Viewed from a unique and unconventional perspective, Earth’s geographic attributes can also be a surprising source of awe-inspiring art.

That unique perspective is space. The artists for the Earth as Art Three exhibit are the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites, which orbit approximately 705 kilometers (438 miles) above the Earth’s surface. While studying the images these satellites beam down daily, researchers are often struck by the sheer beauty of the scenes. Such images inspire the imagination and go beyond scientific value to remind us how stunning, intricate, and simply amazing our planet’s features can be.

Instead of paint, the medium for these works of art is light. But Landsat satellite sensors don’t see light as human eyes do; instead, they see radiant energy reflected from Earth’s surface in certain wavelengths, or bands, of red, green, blue, and infrared light. When these different bands are combined into a single image, remarkable patterns, colors, and shapes emerge.

The Earth as Art Three exhibit provides fresh and inspiring glimpses of different parts of our planet’s complex surface. The images in this collection were chosen solely based on their aesthetic appeal. Many of the images have been manipulated to enhance color variations or details. They are not intended for scientific interpretation—only for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

First posted September 23, 2010

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
47914 252nd Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57198-0001
Phone: 605-594-6151
Fax: 605-594-6589
http://eros.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

2010, Earth as art three: U.S. Geological Survey General Information Product 111, 20 p.


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