Big Pic: Radar Makes Lake Look Like Bad Stoner Art

Topographic radar imagery paints a glowing line through bone-white Appalachia

The alien landscape above is actually a slice of Appalachia in Pennsylvania. At the center of it, in bright reds and vibrant purples, sits Raystown Lake.

Raystown is an odd lake – it’s man-made, and man-made twice, first in the 1910s for an electrical company, and then a second time in the 1970s by the Army Corps of Engineers for better flood control and more hydroelectric power.

The picture comes from the Europe Space Agency Envisat satellite. Launched in 2002, it was designed to take measurements on the ocean, atmosphere, land, and ice. It performed this mission until contact was lost in April, 2012. The image above is a composition of three images snapped between December 2007 and May 2008 with Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar. Neat!

Observing the Earth

Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.