Satellite imagery: Where science and art connect

January 10, 2011


Satellite imagery is a powerful tool for scientists that monitor the dynamic features upon Earth’s surface. With a vantage point from space, large swaths of landscape can be viewed in a single snapshot. Depending on the sensors used to capture the image, these scientific tools may also serve as beautiful works of art.


From June through September 2010, the Alaska Satellite Facility partnered with the University of Alaska Museum of the North on a special exhibit that contained a mixture of aerial photography and satellite images from the ASF archive. ASF Chief Scientist Don Atwood selected images for the exhibit based on simple, yet elegant criteria.


“I tried to choose images for either their scientific importance or just for their physical beauty,” he said. “Earth seen from space is gorgeous, so I tried to pick scenes that were visually compelling.”


The exhibit’s three-month installment helped boost local awareness of the depth and breadth of imagery available in the ASF data archive. The Alaska Satellite Facility was established in 1991 and downlinks, archives and distributes satellite data to scientists across the globe for Earth science research, field operations and commercial remote-sensing applications of benefit to society. 


To access ASF data sets, visit