Sochi is a summer resort town with a warm, humid, subtropical climate. But the cold alpine climate of the Caucasus Mountains lies just a short distance inland. Nature helped the Olympic hosts in 2014 with cold weather and some natural snow during the weeks prior to the games.
On Jan. 19, 2014, NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an image of a bloom of microscopic organisms off the southeastern coast of Brazil. Biologists working in the area have identified the bloom as a fast-swimming ciliate protist. Though it is not a true phytoplankter, it is an autotroph, i.e., it makes its own food.
If the cold of winter is getting you down, take flight to a tropical island. Here are a few relaxing destinations, as viewed from NASA satellites and the International Space Station. We can take your mind, but you’ll have to make your own reservations to get your body there!
Just south of China’s Tien Shan mountains, in northwestern Xinjiang province, a remarkable series of ridges dominate the landscape. The highest hills rise up to 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) above the adjacent basins, and they are decorated with distinctive red, green and cream-colored sedimentary rock layers. The colors reflect rocks that formed at different times and in different environments.
While the northern latitudes are bathed in the dull colors and light of winter, the waters of the Southern Hemisphere are alive with mid-summer blooms.
Viewed at night from the vantage point of the International Space Station, the regular north-south and east-west layout of street grids typical of western U.S. cities is clearly visible in this astronaut photograph of Salt Lake City. The color and density of the city lights provide clues to the character of the urban fabric.
Volcanic activity along the western edge of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” gave rise to a tiny island in late November 2013. Located in the Ogasawara Islands, part of the Volcano Islands arc, the new islet sits about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Tokyo in waters considered part of Japanese territory.
Morning sunlight illuminates the southeast-facing slopes of the Islands of the Four Mountains in this photograph taken from the International Space Station. The islands, part of the Aleutian Island chain, are actually the upper slopes of volcanoes rising from the sea floor.
The Grand Canyon stuns visitors with breathtaking views every day. Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2, 2013, it stunned visitors even more by not being visible. A rare meteorological event filled the canyon with an ocean of clouds. Such events are so rare that National Park Service rangers—who see the canyon every day—wait for years to see the ground-hugging fog.
Offshore from Argentina, spring is in bloom. Massive patches of phytoplankton colored the ocean in November 2013. These microscopic, plant-like organisms are the ocean’s primary producers, harnessing sunlight to nourish themselves and to become food for everything from zooplankton to whales.