While the 2014 Winter Olympics get into full swing in Sochi, this once obscure Russian city has become the focus of world attention. And it’s not only the camera lenses of sports photographers who have been snapping — Earth observing satellites and even astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have been looking down from orbit.
In the dazzling photo above, an Expedition 38 astronaut on board the ISS managed to pick out the coastal Olympic Park Coastal Cluster at night. The location of the Opening Ceremony, the Fisht Stadium, is most recognizable (the bright circular structure right of center) and street lighting gives the photo its orange hue. Sochi Airport is in the center of the frame. The main city, which is home to 400,000 people is out of shot and located further west (left).
The observation above comes from NASA’s Terra satellite’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument. The otherworldly red hue depicts regions of vegetation, white is snow and grey is urban areas. Sochi is the warmest Winter Olympics on record -- the lack of snow surrounding the Olympic Park is obvious.
This ASTER observation of Sochi’s snowy mountains may look dramatic, but the elevation scale has been exaggerated 1.5 times to bring out topographic details. The snowy area surrounding the Rosa Khutar ski resort, located inside the valley in the center of the shot, hosts the Olympics’ alpine skiing events.
In this false-color 2013 Landsat observation of the Olympic Park Coastal Cluster, Sochi’s newly-completed Fisht Stadium, airport and new breakwater structure (a harbor for cruise ships) are highlighted.
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