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The thirteen Galápagos Islands are located in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean, approximately 1000 km west of Ecuador. This archipelago is famous for its unique diversity of animals and plants and has become a part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. Due to the works of Charles Darwin, whose journey to the islands in 1835 furthered his theory of evolution, the Galápagos Islands have become widely known.


Location: Galápagos Islands
Picture taken on September 8, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS


The world from the view of a satellite.


Picture taken on July 11, 2005

Sensor: Terra MODIS

NASA (Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Robert Simmon); Link:

The indigenous peoples of Latin America are facing serious problems caused by the large-scale deforestation of the rain forests. The false-colour image of Bolivia is representative of this issue. Losing their living environment, which was once used sustainably, indigenous peoples are increasingly marginalised and forced to live in poverty. Tropical rain forests are particularly sensitive to outside influences because they are drawing all of their potential from the natural cycles of materials because their ground is lacking nutrient stores. The exploitation of the grounds is followed by the abandonment of the fields leaving huge scars in the landscape. Sadly, the once so rich diversity of species will probably be lost forever.


Location: Bolivia
Picture taken on August 9, 2002
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: IR/G/B

USGS; Link:

The delta of the Paraná River is a huge arboreous wetland 30 km northeast of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This area is a popular destination for guided boat tours. Moreover, the delta is one of the biggest birdwatching sites worldwide. This false-colour image shows the striking contrast between dense woods, wet swamps and the blue Paraná. It combines information from the short-wavelength and near infrared as well as from the green wavelength range.


Location: Argentina
Picture taken on May 26, 2000
Sensor: Landsat 7 ETM+
Band combination: G/SIR/NIR


These images show the hills in the north of Teresópolis, Brazil, on May 24, 2010 and on February 2, 2011. In January 2011, a series of devastating landslides occurred, claiming the lives of 860 people. In the image on the right-hand side, the light brown stripes indicate the mudslides. This natural disaster was caused by the construction of favelas in steep terrain: In order to build the settlements, many trees were cut down whose roots had been ensuring the stability of the ground. What is more, the ground could not absorb enough water to prevent the heavy rainfall from resulting in mudslides.


Location: Teresópolis, Brazil
Pictures taken on May 24, 2010 and February 2, 2011
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI





NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); Link:

The water off the coast of the Bahamas shimmers in light blue since it is partly only less than ten metres deep. Therefore, it might be regarded as an extension of the islands below the surface of the water. Since the underwater hill of the Great Bahama Bank steeply descends as deep as 400 metres, this is marked in the satellite image by a strong colour change to dark blue. The white structures above the islands indicate convective clouds: The land areas of the islands force the moist air to rise and to condense in the cold air aloft.


Location: Bahamas, Middle America
Picture taken on February 12, 2009
Sensor: Aqua MODIS
Band combination: R/G/B

NASA/GSFC (Jeff Schmaltz); Link:

The city of Brasilia was planned from scratch by architect Oscar Niemeyer and urban planner Lucio Costa. It formally became the federal capital of Brazil on April 21, 1960. Since that day, Brasilia has been growing continually. Initially planned for only 500,000 residents, a number exceeded in 1970, about 2.6 million people were living in Brasilia in 2009. In this satellite image from 2002, you can see the satellite suburbs that developed almost arbitrarily in the surroundings of Brasilia.


Location: Brasilia, Brazil
Picture taken on July 23, 2002
Sensor: Landsat ETM+



USGS; Link:

In this image, you can see one of the largest iron ore mines worldwide: the Carajás Mine. In the Carajás Mine, minerals are being removed from the surface layer by layer. In 2007, 296 million tons of iron ore were extracted. The Carajás Mine is estimated to hold approximately 18 billion tons of iron ore, gold, manganese, copper and nickel. In this image, the contrast between the red earth of the surface mining and the surrounding rain forest is striking. On the periphery of the image, you can see that rain forest has been cleared in favour of cultivated land.


Location: Para, Brazil
Picture taken on July 26, 2009
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI

NASA (Jesse Allen); Link:

Patagonia is a mountainous region at the border between Chile and Argentina. You can see that the glacier (white) streaming from the mountains towards the foothills is interspersed with crevasses. The semicircular crest far left in the picture is pierced by three glacial rivers. The crest consists of coarse gravel, forming the terminal moraine for a long time, deposited by the ice tongue. Thus, the moraine marks the end of the glacier in former times and indicates a retreat of ice. In this false colour image, the vegetation is depicted in red.


Location: Patagonia, Latin America

Picture taken on May 2, 2000

Sensor: Terra ASTER

Band combination: VIS/NIR