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The island of Phuket on the Indian Ocean coast of Thailand is a major tourist destination and was also in the path of the tsunami that washed ashore on December 26, 2004, resulting in a heavy loss of life. These simulated natural color ASTER images show a 27 kilometer (17-mile) long stretch of coast north of the Phuket airport on December 31 (right), along with an image acquired two years earlier (left). The changes along the coast are obvious where the vegetation has been stripped away. These images are being used to create damage assessment maps for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region, and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched December 18, 1999, on NASA's Terra satellite. The instrument was built by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and the data products. The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping, and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance. The U.S. science team is located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Size: 9.8 by 27.6 kilometers (6.1 by 17.1 miles) Location: 8.6 degrees North latitude, 98.2 degrees East longitude Orientation: North at top Image Data: ASTER bands 3,2, and 1 Original Data Resolution: 15 meters (49.2 feet) Dates Acquired: November 15, 2002, and December 31, 2004
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