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The world from the view of a satellite.


Picture taken on July 11, 2005

Sensor: Terra MODIS

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

After a drought of several years, the recurrent rain returned to the region surrounding Queensland and New South Wales in 2004. Even though heavy precipitation caused large-scale flooding, infrastructural damage and the isolation of cities, the Australians were quite pleased with the situation. In this false-colour image, the turquoise-blue colour indicates the mass of water.


Location: Northeast Australia
Picture taken on January 18, 2004
Band combination: VIS/NIR/SWIR


This unusual image shows a part of the Pacific Ocean northwest of Australia and exemplifies the interaction between the atmosphere and the quiet sea of the Indian Ocean.
Atmospheric gravitational waves develop from the rise and fall of air in vertical undulations. If air masses sink during the undulations, they roughen the surface of the water. In the satellite image, this section of the water surface is darker than the smooth surface between the wave troughs. As can be seen in the upper part of the picture, clouds develop above the wave crests quite often.


Location: Australia
Picture taken on October 27, 2010
Sensor: Terra MODIS



NASA/GSFC (Jeff Schmaltz); Link:

Containing 2900 single reefs and 71 coral islands, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is the largest reef system in the world. In this satellite image, the Great Barrier Reef contrasts with the dark sea water due to the strong reflections of the reef material, which is rich in carbonate. Right off the coast, you can see how sediment flows into the ocean while, once it enters the open sea, its colour can no longer be distinguished from the sea water due to vortices.


Location: Australia
Picture taken on August 6, 2004
Sensor: Terra MODIS




Heavy rainfall in Queensland, Australia, caused the flooding of Fitzroy River in January 2011. Large parts of the city of Rockhampton were flooded as well. This false-colour image highlights the contrast between the brown water of the river, which is rich in sediment, and its surroundings. The light-reflecting surfaces of the buildings and of the clouds framing this scene are pearly-white. When the floods started to retreat at the end of January 2011, it left a mixture of mud, water and destroyed infrastructure behind.


Location: Rockhampton, Australia
Picture taken on January 7, 2011
Sensor: Terra ASTER
Band combination: VIS/NIR

NASA/GSFC (Jesse Allen); Link:

In Central Australia, a large area of “ephemeral lakes” stretches across the borders of several states. Due to an average precipitation of 149 to 216 millimetres p.a., the lake basins are only occasionally filled with water and remain dry-as-dust salines most of the year. This image shows the easternmost periphery of Lake Frome in South Australia. When the picture was taken, Lake Frome was a dry salt lake filled with white sediment. The surface of the lake is uneven and characterised by drop-shaped hills.


Location: Australia
Picture taken on March 7, 2009
Sensor: EO-1 - ALI



NASA (Jesse Allen, Robert Simmon); USGS; Link: