1. canadian-space-agency:

    Another beautiful Space Vine from NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman aboard the ISS. September 23rd 2014.

    Credit: Reid Wiseman/NASA

    (Source: vine.co)

     
     
  2. Hawaiian Islands

    A silver swath of sunglint surrounds half of the Hawaiian islands in this true-color Terra MODIS image acquired on May 27, 2003. Sunglint reveals turbulence in the surface waters of the Pacific Ocean. If the surface of the water was as smooth as a perfect mirror, we would see the circle of the Sun as a perfect reflection. But because the surface of the water is ruffled with waves, each wave acts like a mirror and the Sun’s reflection gets softened into a broader silver swath, called the sunglint region.

    In this scene, the winds ruffling the water surface around the Hawaiian Islands create varying patterns, leaving some areas calmer than others. Southwest of Hawaii and Maui, on their leeward sides, calmer waters are indicated by brighter silver coloration. Conversely, notice how most of the vegetation on the Hawaiian Islands grows on their northeastern, or windward, sides.

    From lower right to upper left, the “Big Island” (Hawaii), Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau islands all make up the state of Hawaii, which lies more than 2,000 miles from any other part of the United States. The small red dot on the Big Island’s southeastern side marks a hot spot on Kilauea Volcano’s southern flank. Kilauea has been erupting almost continuously since January 1983, and is one of the world’s best studied volcanoes.

    Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

    Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS
     
  3. O, What a Cloud

    Editor’s note: If you were struck by the similarity between this cloud formation and the 15th letter of the alphabet, you are not alone. As a side project, Earth Observatory has been filing away images for a satellite version of the ABCs. We have many letters already, but we could still use your help tracking down a good example of B, G, F, K, and Z. Please post links to your finds in the comments section of this Earth Matters post.

    If you have ever looked carefully at clouds, you know how easily their irregular forms can remind people of all sorts of common shapes—ranging from elephants to angles. But not all clouds have irregular shapes. As this satellite image shows, they can come in near perfect circles as well.

    How would such a symmetrical cloud form? Knowing a bit about how meteorologists categorize clouds is useful for understanding this. Meteorologists break convective clouds into two main groups: closed-celled and open-celled. Both types get their general shape from Rayleigh-Bernard cells, the hexagonal patterns that form naturally when fluids are heated from below.

    A deck of closed-cell clouds looks similar to capped honeycomb from above, with opaque cumulus clouds at the center of the cells. Open-celled clouds have the opposite look. Rather than being at the center of a cell, lines of clouds trace the cell borders, leaving the centers cloud-free.

    The difference relates to the flow of air in the cell. Moist, warm air rises in the center of closed-cells and sinks around the edges. Open-cell clouds have air sinking in the center of cells and rising along the edges. In both cases, clouds form when parcels of warm air rise, expand, and cool enough for water vapor to condense into liquid droplets.

    On September 3, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this example of what appears to be either the start or the remnants of an open-celled cloud formation. In an area a few thousand kilometers southwest of the Hawaiian Islands, Terra observed the cloud ring on a clear day over the open ocean. The center of the cloud ring was at 168.37 degrees West and 1.37 degrees South, putting it just south of a band of rain showers associated with the Intertropical Convergence Zone.

    While circular clouds like this can form in several situations, this particular cloud formation likely began when the sun heated a parcel of air that happened to be over a small island or patch of warm ocean water. As the warm air became buoyant and rose, cumulus clouds and eventually patches of light rain probably developed. The rain would have cooled the air beneath the clouds, causing a downdraft that sent rain-cooled air outward from the original location of the clouds. When the rain-cooled air encountered warmer air at the edge of the cell, it likely pushed the warm air up, which caused the ring of cumulus clouds to form.

    While quite common, cellular cloud patterns were unknown to meteorologists until the launch of the first weather satellites. The closely-packed mesh of clouds were too large to be recognized by fragmented networks of ground-based instruments and even airplanes, retired Penn State meteorologist Lee Grenci explained on his Weather Underground blog. The first-published example of open-cell convection occurred in February 1961, after the launch of the TIROS-1 satellite.

    NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland, with input from Erin Jones (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Jamie Dyer (Mississippi State University), and Heather Hanson (NASA).

    Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS
     
  4. The Aral Sea Loses Its Eastern Lobe

    Summer 2014 marked another milestone for the Aral Sea, the once-extensive lake in Central Asia that has been shrinking markedly since the 1960s. For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried.

    This image pair from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite shows the sea without its eastern lobe on August 19, 2014 (top). Substantial changes are apparent when compared to an image from August 25, 2000 (bottom), and again when compared to the approximate location of the shoreline in 1960 (black outline).

    "This is the first time the eastern basin has completely dried in modern times," said Philip Micklin, a geographer emeritus from Western Michigan University and an Aral Sea expert. "And it is likely the first time it has completely dried in 600 years, since Medieval desiccation associated with diversion of Amu Darya to the Caspian Sea."

    In the 1950s and 1960s, the government of the former Soviet Union diverted the Amu Darya and the Syr Darya—the region’s two major rivers—to irrigate farmland. The diversion began the lake’s gradual retreat. By the start of the Terra series in 2000, the lake had already separated into the North (Small) Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and the South (Large) Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. The South Aral had further split into western and eastern lobes.

    The eastern lobe of the South Aral nearly dried in 2009 and then saw a huge rebound in 2010. Water levels continued to fluctuate annually in alternately dry and wet years.

    According to Micklin, the desiccation in 2014 occurred because there has been less rain and snow in the watershed that starts in the distant Pamir Mountains; this has greatly reduced water flow on the Amu Darya. In addition, huge amounts of river water continue to be withdrawn for irrigation. The Kok-Aral Dam across the Berg Strait—a channel that connects the northern Aral Sea with the southern part—played some role, but has not been a major factor this year, he said.

    "This part of the Aral Sea is showing major year-to-year variations that are dependent on flow of Amu Darya," Micklin said. "I would expect this pattern to continue for some time."

    NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Level 1 and Atmospheres Active Distribution System (LAADS). Caption by Kathryn Hansen.

    Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS
     
  5. canadian-space-agency:

    NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman aboard the ISS: “Sand from Africa blows west across the Atlantic.” September 13th 2014.

    Credit: Reid Wiseman/NASA

    (Source: twitter.com)

     
  6. Mount Tambora Volcano, Sumbawa Island, Indonesia

    On April 10, 1815, the Tambora Volcano produced the largest eruption in recorded history. An estimated 150 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of tephra—exploded rock and ash—resulted, with ash from the eruption recognized at least 1,300 kilometers (808 miles) away to the northwest. While the April 10 eruption was catastrophic, historical records and geological analysis of eruption deposits indicate that the volcano had been active between 1812 and 1815. Enough ash was put into the atmosphere from the April 10 eruption to reduce incident sunlight on the Earth’s surface, causing global cooling, which resulted in the 1816 “year without a summer.”

    This detailed astronaut photograph depicts the summit caldera of the volcano. The huge caldera—6 kilometers (3.7 miles) in diameter and 1,100 meters (3,609 feet) deep—formed when Tambora’s estimated 4,000-meter- (13,123-foot) high peak was removed, and the magma chamber below emptied during the April 10 eruption. Today the crater floor is occupied by an ephemeral freshwater lake, recent sedimentary deposits, and minor lava flows and domes from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Layered tephra deposits are visible along the northwestern crater rim. Active fumaroles, or steam vents, still exist in the caldera.

    In 2004, scientists discovered the remains of a village, and two adults buried under approximately 3 meters (nearly 10 feet) of ash in a gully on Tambora’s flank—remnants of the former Kingdom of Tambora preserved by the 1815 eruption that destroyed it. The similarity of the Tambora remains to those associated with the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius has led to the Tambora site’s description as “the Pompeii of the East.”

    Astronaut photograph ISS020-E-6563 was acquired on June 3, 2009, with a Nikon D3 digital camera fitted with an 800 mm lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 20 crew. The image in this article has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast. Lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.Caption by William L. Stefanov, NASA-JSC.

    Instrument(s): ISS - Digital Camera
     
  7. Fall Colors in Pennsylvania

    Central Pennsylvania presents an ancient landscape, worn down by the grind of ice, water, wind, and time. The ridge lines of the Appalachian Mountain chain, once formidable, are now gentle folds rising over fertile valleys. Ice age glaciers shaped the land, smoothing out the mountains and depositing rich soil as the ice melted away.

    While the ice has done its work, this natural-color image, taken by the Landsat satellite, reveals another powerful natural force that has had a hand in sculpting the landscape: the Susquehanna River system. The river flows generally south from its headwaters in upstate New York to the Chesapeake Bay. In this image, the river cuts right through several ridge lines, apparently without regard to rock or gravity. Contrary to how things may appear at first glance, the mountains do shape the river’s course. In two places in this image, the river bends west along a ridge line until it finds a gap through which it cuts south. In every place where the river flows through the mountains, it is pouring through a gap that must have existed before. Located north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which is just below the lower edge of the image, the region is called the Susquehanna Water Gap.

    The image also illustrates more rapid changes. The trees along the ridge lines are gold, orange, and red, hinting that the coolness of autumn had settled over the region on October 21, 2001, when the image was taken. At lower elevations, the trees remained dark green. Forest once covered the entire landscape, but now, the fertile valleys are filled with squares of pink, tan, and green agricultural fields. Many crops had been harvested, leaving behind golden stubble or red-brown bare earth. Other signs of human habitation are visible in the image. Bright white roads line both the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers. Small cities—Marysville near the bottom edge of the image and Duncannon near the confluence of the two rivers—are concentrated dots of white-gray. The vegetation along much of the Kittatinny Ridge is a patchwork of various shades of green, a good indication that the landscape has been developed.

    Clearly, much can be learned about the geology and land cover of a region from the view from space. But the new perspective also helps us appreciate the beauty of a landscape in a new way. On the ground, or even in an airplane, you could never acquire the distance needed to see the zig-zag shape of the mountains or the spectrum of color presented by the unfolding season. From this distance, the Susquehanna Water Gap region resembles an abstract painting in pastel more than an aerial photograph. So, while exploring Earth from space has taught us a great deal about our home planet, it has also shown us just how beautiful Earth is. To read more about what we have learned about Earth from space, see Earth Perspectives on the Earth Observatory.

    NASA image by Robert Simmon, based on Landsat data from the University of Maryland Global Land Cover Facility. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

    Instrument(s): Landsat 7 - ETM+
     
  8. Amazon Forest Fires

    On an unusually cloud-free day at the height of the dry season, several fires were burning in Amazonia, giving rise to a broad smoke pall easily seen from the International Space Station (ISS). Parts of the ISS appear along the margins of the photo.

    Against the backdrop of the dark green rainforest, several fires follow the major highway BR 163. Fires are set to clear patches of forest for agriculture, a process that reveals red-brown soils. A long line of newly cleared patches snakes east from BR 163 towards the remote valley of Rio Crepori.

    Extensive deforested areas in Brazil’s state of Mato Grosso appear in tan across the top of the image. Fires show the advance of deforestation into the state of Pará, which is now second after Mato Grosso in terms of deforestation acreage.

    Astronaut photograph ISS040-E-103496 was acquired on August 19, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using a 70 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 40 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by M. Justin Wilkinson, Jacobs, and Michael Trenchard, Barrios Technology, at NASA-JSC.

    Instrument(s): ISS - Digital Camera
     
  9. Dust and Clouds Dance Over the Sahara

    More dust blows out of the Sahara Desert and into the atmosphere than from any other desert in the world, and more than half of the dust deposited in the ocean lifts off from these arid North African lands. Saharan dust influences the fertility of Atlantic waters and soils in the Americas. It blocks or reflects sunlight and affects the formation of clouds. By way of the dry Saharan air layer, dust either promotes or suppresses the development of Atlantic hurricanes, an enigma that scientists are trying to sort out.

    In early September 2014, it looked like this sandy landscape had changed places with the sky. The photograph above was taken by astronaut Alex Gerst on September 8, 2014, from the International Space Station. The ISS was over Libya at the time, and Gerst was looking south-southwest over a storm that stretched hundreds of kilometers across the sand seas of the Sahara.

    In the photo, winds appear to be coming out of the east or northeast (left), and the sun is setting to the west (right in this image). Billowing cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds suggest that a cold, windy front was moving across the desert, perhaps a haboob. The African land surface was almost completely blocked from view by the thick dust; even the lower portions of some clouds were obscured.

    “It’s a spectacular image,” said Leo Donner, an atmospheric physicist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. “What appear to be convective anvils are protruding above a dusty layer, and I’d speculate that the narrower convection cells on which these anvils are resting are obscured by the thick dust. The four small cylinders with tops that look like chess figures [upper right] have structures very much like the idealized plumes we use for cumulus convection in climate models.”

    Atmospheric scientist Matt McGill of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is flying one instrument on a robotic plane to study such dust plumes and clouds, and he has another one headed for the ISS later this year. The Cloud-Physics Lidar (CPL) is mounted on NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned drone and has been flying over tropical storms in the Atlantic. CPL is a prototype of the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), an instrument package that is soon to be launched to the space station. The goal of both instruments is to better parse not just how much dust and other aerosols are carried in the air, but how abundant they are at various altitudes.

    Astronaut photograph ISS040-E-90343 was acquired on September 8, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera using an 80 millimeter lens, and is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 40 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Mike Carlowicz. Thanks to Ralph Kahn, Leo Donner, Joe Prospero, and Matt McGill for image interpretation.

    Instrument(s): 
    ISS - Digital Camera
     
  10. King Fire, California

    On September 17, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of the King fire fire burning in Eldorado National Forest. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fire. As of September 18, the fire had charred 70,944 acres (27,710 hectares) and forced 2,819 people to evacuate their homes.

    NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland.

    Instrument(s): Aqua - MODIS
     
  11. Bloom in the Bering Sea

    The Bering Sea is no stranger to phytoplankton blooms, such as this late-summer event off the coast of Alaska.

    On September 4, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a natural-color image (top) of a bloom southwest of Nunivak Island and the coast of Alaska. The bloom was still visible a day later when astronauts aboard the International Space Station took photographs (below).

    Blooms in the Bering Sea typically increase in spring, when nutrients and freshened water (from melting ice) are more abundant near the ocean surface. Then phytoplankton populations usually plummet in summertime after exhausting the nutrients in surface waters or falling prey to ocean grazers. By autumn, however, storms and cooler water allow nutrients to mix back to the surface, fueling more blooms.

    “Phytoplankton blooms in the Bering Sea are very common,” said Kevin Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University. “It is one of the most productive places in the world ’s oceans.”

    The chlorophyll contained in these tiny plant-like organisms often shows up in natural-color images as a green hue. However, the phytoplankton in this image are very reflective, which suggests they are a type of algae called coccolithophores, according to Arrigo.

    “These algae cover themselves with little calcium carbonate discs, and if they are concentrated enough, they can make the water milky in appearance,” he said. “These kinds of blooms used to be rare in the Bering Sea but arebecoming more common.”

    NASA MODIS image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Astronaut photographs ISS040-E-12807 andISS040-E-12808 were acquired on September 5, 2014, with a Nikon D3S digital camera, and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by the Expedition 40 crew. It has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Kathryn Hansen.

    Instrument(s): ISS - Digital CameraAqua - MODIS
     
  12. Below the Bend in the Appalachians

    For decades, geologists have debated the origins of an unmistakable curve in the Appalachian Mountains. Known to experts as the “Pennsylvania salient,” the bend begins in southern New York and northeastern Pennsylvania and extends across Pennsylvania to the border of Maryland. In this area, the ridges of the Appalachians turn from a roughly north-south orientation to an east-west orientation and then north-south again.

    A recent study, authored by geologists from the University of Rochester and College of New Jersey, focuses on a block of dense, mafic volcanic rock beneath the bend. The scientists argued that this underground mass forced the mountain chain to shift as it formed hundreds of millions of years ago. As the North American and African plates collided, the North American plate began to fold and thrust upward. However, the mass of volcanic rock became a barrier and forced the mountains to push up around it.

    Geologists have known about this mass for some time, but after analyzing new seismic and gravitational data, they concluded that the expanse of volcanic rocks was about 450 kilometers (286 miles) by 100 kilometers (124 miles). “What we didn’t understand was the size of the structure or its implications for mountain-building processes,” said Cynthia Ebinger, one of the study authors.

    The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of the bend on November 17, 2012. Other physiographic regions are also visible. A portion of the Appalachian Plateaulies to the north of the mountains. The Appalachian Piedmont, a low-elevation plateau in the foothills, lies to the east and transitions into the Atlantic Coastal Plain.

    NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. Caption by Adam Voiland.

    Instrument(s): Aqua - MODIS
     
  13. Global View of the Arctic and Antarctic on September 21, 2005

    In support of International Polar Year, this matching pair of images showing a global view of the Arctic and Antarctic were generated in poster-size resolution. Both images show the sea ice on September 21, 2005, the date at which the sea ice was at its minimum extent in the northern hemisphere. The color of the sea ice is derived from the AMSR-E 89 GHz brightness temperature while the extent of the sea ice was determined by the AMSR-E sea ice concentration. Over the continents, the terrain shows the average land cover for September, 2004. (See Blue Marble Next Generation) The global cloud cover shown was obtained from the original Blue Marble cloud data distributed in 2002. (See Blue Marble:Clouds) A matching star background is provided for each view. All images include transparency, allowing them to be composited on a background.

    Story Credits:

    Visualizer/Animator: 

    Cindy Starr (GST) (Lead) 

    Scientist: 
    Ronald Weaver (University of Colorado) 
    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).
     
  14. Hurricane Odile

    At about 10:45 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) on September 14, 2014, Hurricane Odile made landfall as aCategory 3 storm near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Odile arrived with wind speeds of 110 knots (204 kilometers or 127 miles per hour). The storm tied Olivia (1967) as the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the state of Baja California Sur in the satellite era.

    The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color view of the storm at about noon MDT on September 14, when it was still southeast of the Baja California peninsula. Unisys Weather reported that the Category 4 storm had maximum sustained wind speeds of 115 knots (213 kilometers per hour) at the time.

    Odile had weakened to a Category 2 hurricane by 6 a.m. MDT on September 15. The storm was expected to continue weakening as it moved up the peninsula and over the area’s rough terrain, according to weather blogger Jeff Masters. Meteorologists noted that while damaging winds posed the biggest threat in the short term, inland areas of the U.S. Southwest could face heavy rainfall by September 16.

    The rain expected from Odile came one week after the U.S. Southwest experienced flash floods from the remnants of Hurricane Norbert. According to weather and climate blogger Eric Holthaus, those floods did little to relieve the area’s ongoing drought.

    NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response. Caption by Kathryn Hansen.

    Instrument(s): Terra - MODIS
     
  15. Star-Spangled City

    The song is familiar to every American, but the moment and place where it was composed are less so.

    On April 24, 2014, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured this view of Baltimore, Maryland, and its harbor. Fort McHenry and its star-shaped ramparts—the place where “that star-spangled banner yet wave[d],” on September 14, 1814—stand at the entrance to the city’s Inner Harbor. The area was a pivotal battleground in the War of 1812.

    In September 1814, British naval and ground forces advanced on the city of Baltimore, emboldened by the August 24 burning of The White House and the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. On September 12, British forces landed at North Point, 5 miles (8 kilometers) southeast of Baltimore (just off the lower right of this image), and engaged American troops in several small battles. By September 13, the land forces approached the city of Baltimore but were repelled by U.S. Army and Maryland militia forces assembled behind a mile of earthworks and trenches along Hampstead Hill—near what is now known as Patterson Park (image top center).

    On the morning of September 13, British naval vessels set up positions roughly at the point where this image is labeled Baltimore Harbor. They began a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, staying far enough offshore to hit the fort with rockets and cannonballs but out of the range of American artillery. Unable to subdue the fort, and hampered by several merchant vessels that were intentionally sunk in the harbor, the British forces ended their attack on the morning of September 14.

    The Battle of Baltimore moved a young American lawyer and negotiator to write a song entitled “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” Francis Scott Key had spent the night of September 13 on a British vessel in the Patapsco River, working to secure the release of American prisoners of war. Local legend in Maryland holds that the HMS Tonnant was anchored roughly where the Key Bridge is now located, giving Key a direct view toward Fort McHenry and “the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,” that “gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” On September 14, a clean 30 by 42 foot American flag was raised over Fort McHenry “by the dawn’s early light.”

    Key’s four-verse song was published on September 20, 1814, in the Baltimore Patriot and the Advertiser. The battle hymn was eventually renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and was declared the national anthem in 1931.

    Beyond its pivotal role in the War of 1812, Baltimore has long been an important sea port on the East Coast of the United States, particularly because of its proximity by road and rail to inland agricultural and industrial hubs in the Midwest. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, the city is now home to more than 600,000 residents. According to some media reports, nearly one-quarter of the jobs in the Baltimore area are related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. It is home to the Space Telescope Science Institute, the operations center for theHubble Space Telescope.

    1. References and Related Reading

    2. Baltimore Business Journal (2014, July 1) STEM workers in demand in Baltimore, Brookings report says. Accessed September 12, 2014.
    3. National Park Service Fort McHenry. Accessed September 12, 2014.
    4. Smithsonian National Museum of American History (2014) The Star-Spangled Banner. Accessed September 12, 2014.
    5. Star-Spangled 200 (2014) War of 1812 Interactive Map. Accessed September 12, 2014.
    6. Star-Spangled 200 (2014) Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial. Accessed September 12, 2014.

    NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Michael Carlowicz.

    Instrument(s): Landsat 8 - OLI