Back in April 2013, China launched its first satellite with high-resolution imaging capabilities up into space. That satellite made some news today when the country's space agency said that authorities had used its imagery to detect illegal border crossings and even to bust marijuana farmers. The imagery is pretty impressive, and China presented a good look at it just over a week ago, releasing 10 detailed images that it's taken since launch.
The satellite, Gaofen-1, is the first of several that China plans to put up into space. In fact, it just launched the Gaofen-2 last week. In particular, Gaofen-1 was sent up for the purpose of monitoring the land and helping in the event of a disaster.
Below, you can see the 10 images that the China National Space Administration published earlier this month. They're in false color — so they simultaneously look both alien and incredible, but you can usually expect that vegetation will show up as red, water will show up as blue, and dirt will show up as shades of gray.
- Dried river valleys cut between mountains. The red and brown tones represent different types of vegetation.
- Mountains and a small body of water sit at the bottom of the desert depicted throughout the top of this image.
- There's a lot going on in this image of mountains near Changzhi. The pink on the left is farming. Snow is visible in the white region on the right. And vegetation, depicted in red, can be seen covering the mountains.
- Farms along the beach of an estuary.
- Sand on the edge of Qinghai Lake.
- A desert in western China. The blue and red patches are man-made reservoirs. The ear shape is a dried up lake that's been eroded by wind.
- More dry lakes. A road can be seen zagging from left to right across the image.
- An alluvial fan takes a jellyfish shape in the Gobi Desert.
- The crop fields at the top of this image haven't turned green yet (despite their false color). What's beneath them — a stretch of mountains that have been carved by water — are, however, covered in green.
- The ground on this plateau has been cut apart by erosion. One long stream uses that valley to cut across the land.
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