Magnificent views of the region surrounding Salt Lake City, Utah are
captured in these winter and summer images from the Multi-angle Imaging
SpectroRadiometers vertical-viewing (nadir) camera. Salt Lake City,
situated near the southeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake, is host to
the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, which open Friday, February 8. Venues for
five of the scheduled events are at city (indoor) locations, and five in
mountain (outdoor) facilities. All ten can be found within the area
contained in these images. Some of the outdoor events take place at
Ogden, situated north of Salt Lake City and at Park City, located to the
Salt Lake City is surrounded by mountains including the Wasatch Range to
the east, and the temperature difference between the Great Salt Lake and
the overlying atmosphere enhances the moisture content of winter storms.
These factors, in combination with natural cloud seeding by salt
crystals from the lake, are believed to result in greater snowfall in
neighboring areas compared to more distant locales.
In addition to the obvious difference in snow cover between the winter
and summer views, water color changes in parts of the Great Salt Lake
are apparent in these images. The distinctly different coloration
between the northern and southern arms of the Great Salt Lake is the
result of a rock-filled causeway built in 1953 to support a permanent
railroad. The causeway has resulted in decreased circulation between the
two arms and higher salinity on the northern side. The southern part of
the lake includes the large Antelope Island, and at full resolution a
bridge connecting it to the mainland can be discerned.
These images are natural color views acquired on February 8, 2001 and
June 16, 2001, respectively. Each
image represents an area of about 220 kilometers x 285 kilometers.
Great Salt Lake serves as a striking visual marker for astronauts orbiting over North America. A sharp line across its center is caused by the restriction in water flow from the railroad causeway. The eye-catching colors of the lake stem from the fact that Great Salt Lake is hypersaline, typically 3–5 times saltier than the ocean, and the high salinities support sets of plants and animals that affect the light-absorbing qualities of the water. Space Station astronauts have recorded the decline in lake levels in response to a regional 5-year drought taking both detailed views and broad views of the entire lake. As lake levels have declined the salt works have become islands in the middle of a dry lakebed.