Gombe National Park, Tanzania

Gombe National Park, Tanzania

This three-dimensional image offers a unique perspective on Gombe National Park, nestled against the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika in northwestern Tanzania. Tanganyika is one of eastern Africa's Great Rift Lakes, located in a geologic formation called the Great Rift, where two tectonic plates are pulling apart. The image presents an eastward-looking view across the lake into Gombe National Park and the Gombe Stream Research Center, where naturalist Jane Goodall and her students have been studying chimpanzees for decades. The park was established in 1968.

The small park is bounded by the lake on the west and by the crest of the Rift Valley escarpment on the east. The folded, mountainous terrain creates a diversity of plant and animal communities, but the park is a small remnant of natural forest habitat surrounded by a damaged, deforested landscape. According to Goodall, in many places, the once forest-covered hills have become barren and desert like. In recent years, Goddall has spent increasing amounts of time working with local people and national and international governments to develop conservation strategies for the region that people and wildlife can live with.

This image and accompanying animation were made using data from multiple satellite sensors. The animation was produced by NASA for the Discovery Network’s Animal Planet, which is airing “Return to Gombe,” a program about Goodall’s research into the chimpanzees of Gombe.

The animation merges image and digital terrain data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER)—a joint NASA/Japan Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry satellite sensor—with image and digital terrain data from the commerical IKONOS satellite into a seamless animation. ASTER data are 15-meters-per-pixel (49.2 feet) spatial resolution, and IKONOS data are 4-meters-per-pixel resolution.

Animation courtesy Vince Realmuto, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory