Above and Beyond: The Painted Desert

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Visually captivating NASA satellite imagery showcases and describes the Painted Desert in Arizona.

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory.

All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA
·       Image of Antarctic snow dunes courtesy of Mark Fahnestock, University of Maryland, College Park
·       Sea creature illustration copyright The National Library of Israel, Shapell Family Digitization Project _and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Geography – Historic Cities Research Project
·       Image of clouds off Namibian coast courtesy of Chelys
·       Image of dunes in the Namib Desert courtesy of the USGS EROS Data Center Satellite Systems Branch
·       Namibian dune photo courtesy of Wikimedia user Alcazarfr
·       Photo of the Mandara Oasis in Libya courtesy of Rudolph Baumann
·       Photo of Astrophytum ornatum cactus courtesy of Wikimedia user Stan Shebs
·       Photos of desert plants courtesy of Wikimedia user Halfalah and Dr. Eric Christian (NASA)
·       Photo of fishhook barrel cactus courtesy of Susan Lynn Peterson
·       Photo of Ubari Oasis in Libya courtesy of Wikimedia user Sfivat
·       Image of alluvial fan in Takla Makan Desert courtesy of the USGS EROS Data Center Satellite Systems Branch
·       Photos of salt-covered croplands courtesy of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music
Written by Andrea Gianopoulos
Designed by Marc Lussier

Text, Painted Desert, Arizona, USA.
The Painted Desert in Northern Arizona is an eroded expanse of multicolored mudstone and clays.
A jagged crack expands across the desert.
Text, This natural color image is similar to what our eyes would see from space.
Dark brown pock marks at the top of the desert, surrounded by wispy white swirls above the crack. Text, In the north, a group of ancient volcanic cones and dark volcanic rocks is visible.
The rest of the image darkens to focus on the dark pock marks of the volcanic cones.
Below the crack the earth is more reddish with pale yellow cracks. The image changes color to purple and green. Text, This false-color image was created from wavelengths of light that our eyes cannot see.
This view better distinguishes between different types of rock, soil and vegetation.
The crack appears a bright green. The reddish sections are dark blue and purple. The pale white sections appear a pale blue. Text, Purple-colored areas are devoid of vegetation.
The vibrant green in the south belongs to Sitgreaves National Forest, while the serpentine line of green through the middle of the image indicates vegetation along a river valley.