Thomas wildfires, California

 Wildfires progressing through Southern California as seen by Sentinel-2 on December 3, 5, and 8, 2017.

The Thomas Fire is a massive wildfire burning in Southern California, and one of multiple wildfires that started in the area this December. The fire, which started on December 4, has burned approximately 234,200 acres (948 km2), becoming the largest wildfire of the prolific 2017 California wildfire season. The Thomas Fire also became the largest wildfire recorded in California during the month of December.

At the height of the Thomas Fire, the wildfire was powerful enough to generate its own weather, indicating that the Thomas Fire had become a firestorm. The Thomas Fire has destroyed at least 794 structures, while damaging 187 others; by December 11, the Thomas Fire had cost at least $38.4 million to fight, and is currently estimated to be the 10th most destructive wildfire in California history.

The images were taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) in December 3, 5, and 8, 2017.

Lake Nasser, Egypt

 A true-colour composite satellite image from the Lake Nasser/Nubia Lake that was artificially created by the Aswan High Dam. The Lake at the bottom right of the image shows a stark contrast with the red sand from the surrounding desert areas. Taken by Sentinel-2 in November 2017.

Lake Nasser is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The lake was created as a result of the construction of the Aswan High Dam across the waters of the Nile in 1970. The lake is named after Gamal Abdel Nasser, one of the leaders of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, who initiated the High Dam project. The dam's ability to better control flooding, provide increased water storage for irrigation, and generate hydroelectricity was pivotal to Egypt's industrialization.

The high dam at Aswan releases, on average, 55 cubic kilometres (45,000,000 acre·ft) water per year, of which some 46 cubic kilometres (37,000,000 acre·ft) are diverted into the irrigation canals. Regulating the Nile's annual flooding and irrigating fields throughout the year almost doubled the agricultural yield for Egypt.

The lake crosses over the Egypt-Sudan border and, strictly speaking, Lake Nasser only refers to the portion of the lake in Egyptian territory, with the Sudanese referring to their portion of the lake as Lake Nubia. However, as the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam upstream approaches completion, it is likely parts of the Nasser/Nubia Lake will disappear.

The image was taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) in November 2017.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

 This true-colour composite satellite image shows a very stark contrast between the very white salt plains from Salar du Uyuni and the nearby brown mountainous region. At the top of the image, a salt processing plant creates small black and turquoise blue pools.

Salar de Uyuni is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above sea level.

The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average elevation variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. Due to its exceptional flatness, and the often clear skies of the area, the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites.

The plains are also exceptionally rich in lithium, holding over 50% of the world's known reserves for the sought-after resource.

The image was taken by Landsat 8 (NASA/USGS) in November 2017.

Eye of the Sahara, Mauritania

 The eye of the Sahara is a serious of concentric circles carved in the rock and offering a pleasing contrasts with the surrounding yellow/orange sands of the Sahara desert.

The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara or Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature located in the Sahara desert, in Mauritania.

Due to its remote location, the 50 km wide structure did not receive a lot of attention until some astronauts reported it. Originally thought to have been caused by a large impact from an extraterrestrial object, further study revealed it is likely to be a remnant of when the super Pangea ripped apart, forming what is now Africa and South America.

According to a recent study from Canadian scientists, molten rock pushed up toward the surface created a dome of rock layers. A later eruption about 100 million years ago collapsed the dome which since then eroded to create the bulls-eye that now breaks the otherwise monotonous desert landscape.

The image was taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) in October 2017.

Glacial river from the Vatnajökull flowing into the ocean, Iceland

 The top left of this satellite image is covered by vegetation and clouds. On the top right, you can see brown streaks, which are the results of glacier silt flowing downstream to the ocean, visible in the bottom of the picture. As the silt arrives to the ocean, the waters mix to produce a palette of blue, turquoise, and reddish hues.

The geology of Iceland is comparatively young — it owes its existence to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that splits the island in half. Volcanoes along the ridge, such as Katla, erupt with some regularity continuing to add surface area and mass to the “land of ice and fire” and to augment the black sand beaches (visible on this image). Glaciers cover approximately 11% of Iceland. The streaks heading to the sea visible in this image of the South-Eastern Coast of Iceland are composed primarily of run-water from the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Iceland (not pictured - North).

As the melt water from a glacier starts to flow in the spring time it carries with it glacier silt or "rock flour". The silt is created when rocks underneath the surface of the ice are grinding from the movement of the glacier. The rock flour is very light and stays suspended in the water for a long time. The sunlight that reflects off this rock flour is what gives the water this spectacular turquoise blue or green colour.

The image was taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) in August 2017.

Rodrigues, Mascarenes Islands

 The Rodrigues island offers a stark contrast with the dark blue ocean, thanks to its green and brown lands and surrounding turquoise waters. A few clouds overlooking the island are also visible in this image.

The Mascarene Islands is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar consisting of Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues (featured below). The island (capital Port Mathurin) used to be the tenth District of Mauritius and gained autonomy in 2002.

The 108 square-kilometre island is of volcanic origin and is surrounded by coral reef. Off its coast, you can spot some tiny uninhabited islands.

The coral reef of Rodrigues is of particular interest as it is self-seeding – it receives no coral zooplankton from elsewhere. This has led to an overall species-poor but highly adapted ecosystem. As a result, several species of coral, fish, and crustaceans can only be found on Rodrigues' reefs.

The image was taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) in February 2017.

Gibson desert, Australia

 The Gibson desert in Australia shows a vivid range of yellow and red colours, with numerous valleys and crevices.

The Gibson Desert covers a large dry area in the state of Western Australia and is still largely in an almost "pristine" state. The desert contains extensive areas of undulating red sand plains and dunefields, low rocky/gravelly ridges, and several salt-water lakes.

In much of the region, especially the drier western portion, the majority of people living in the area are Indigenous Australians. In 1984, due to a severe drought which had dried up all of the springs and depleted the bush foods, a group of the Pintupi people who were living a traditional semi-nomadic desert-dwelling life, walked out of a remote wilderness in the central-eastern portion of the Gibson Desert and made contact for the first time with Australian society; perhaps the last uncontacted tribe in Australia.

The image was taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) in June 2017.

Bingham mine

 The Bingham copper mine is a large gold-coloured mountain, visible in the center of this satellite image. The surrounding areas on the left show some vegetation, in green, while the areas on the right show visible ground/rock, in brown. On the mine, one can notice a small maze of roads to help workers access the mine.

The Bingham Canyon Mine, also known as Kennecott Copper Mine, is an open-pit mining operation southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. The mine is the largest man-made excavation in the world and is considered to have produced more copper than any other mine in history – more than 19 million tonnes. It earned its National Historic Landmark designation in 1966.

This image was taken by Sentinel 2 (Copernicus program) on July 2017.

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