California’s Channel Islands

California’s Channel Islands

high resolution image
Santa Cruz in 3-D (168 KB JPEG)

Eight small islands lie off California’s southern coast; on the map they appear situated roughly along a transect line that bypasses Los Angeles and stretches southeastward from Point Conception to San Diego. Collectively known as the Channel Islands, five of these islands comprise Channel Island National Park. Including San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara, the park consists of more than 249,000 acres of land as well as surrounding underwater coral reef and kelp beds. The Channel Islands are home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals — 145 of these species are found nowhere else in the world. (Visit the Channel Islands National Park Web site for more information.)

The true-color image above was acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), flying aboard NASA’s Terra satellite. The islands of Santa Cruz (left) and Anacapa (right) are pictured in the cropped scene above. San Miguel and Santa Rosa can also be seen in the full-resolution copy of this image, which was stitched together using ASTER data from two different Terra overpasses. (Note the difference in appearance between the left and right side of the full scene due to the different sun angles.)

Beginning January 27, 2003, the Channel Islands become a living laboratory for students and teachers from all over the world, both literally and virtually. The islands are the focus of the Jason Project’s fourteenth expedition, entitled From Shore to Sea. The purpose of the 2-week field campaign is to enable students to conduct research into the physical geography of the Channel Islands region. Led by teams of scientists and educators, middle and high school student argonauts will collect a variety of data from the park’s land and marine habitats. Science classrooms all over the world will tune in to participate live via interactive television broadcasts.

NASA is supporting Jason XIV by providing science personnel and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help students to learn the tools and methods of scientific research. Sensors mounted on the UAVs are designed to collect aerial remote sensing data from an altitude of roughly 400 feet. Coincident with the students’ data collected on the ground and via the UAVs, NASA’s MODIS Science Team and the Earth Observatory Team are sharing satellite remote sensing data over the region in near real time. Visit the Image Composite Editor Channel Islands lesson for more details.

Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team