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This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
Since different materials reflect and emit energy in different
ways, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection
Radiometer (ASTER), with its multi-spectral infrared channels, can
provide detailed information about the composition of Earths
surface. In this 3-D perspective view looking north over Death
Valley, California, ASTERs bands 13 (10.6µm), 12 (9.1µm),
and 10 (8.3µm) are displayed in
red, green and blue respectively. The data have been computer
enhanced to exaggerate the color variations that highlight
differences in types of surface materials.
Salt deposits on the floor of Death Valley appear in shades of
yellow, green, purple, and pink, indicating the presence of
carbonate, sulfate, and chloride minerals. The Panamint Mountains
to the west and the Black Mountains to the east are made up of
sedimentary limestones, sandstones, shales and metamorphic rocks.
The bright red areas are dominated by the mineral quartz, found
in sandstones; green areas are limestones. In the lower center of
the image is Badwater, the lowest point in North America.
This image was produced by draping ASTER nighttime thermal
infrared data, acquired on April 7, 2000, over topographic data
from the U.S. Geological Survey.