Photo Friday: Tibetan Plateau From Space

55 million years ago, a major collision took place between two of the large blocks that form the Earth’s crust. The Indian Plate pushed into the Eurasian Plate, creating what is known as the Tibetan Plateau. The region, also known as the “Third Pole,” spans a million square miles and contains the largest amount of glacier ice outside of the poles. A photograph of the southern Tibetan Plateau taken from space was released June 17th, showing the dramatic topography in false color. The photograph, taken by the Sentinel-2A, was captured near Nepal and Sikkim, a northern state of India, on February 1st. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), “From their vantage point 800 km high, satellites can monitor changes in glacier mass, melting and other effects that climate change has on our planet.” This week, enjoy stunning satellite pictures of the Tibetan Plateau over time.

Tibetan Plateau taken from Sentinel-2A, released June 17, 2016 (Credit: ESA)
Tibetan Plateau taken from Sentinel-2A, released June 17, 2016 (Credit: ESA)

NASA also has taken photographs of the same plate collision from space, showing the snow-capped Himalayas, which are still rising.

Tibetan Plateau Plate T-48 from Space (NASA)
Tibetan Plateau Plate T-48 from Space (NASA)

A true-color image of the Tibetan Plateau, taken in 2003 by NASA’S MODIS Rapid Response Team, shows the region’s lakes as dark patches against the sand-colored mountains.

True-color photograph of Tibetan Plateau lakes (NASA--MODIS)
True-color photograph of Tibetan Plateau lakes (NASA–MODIS)

Prior to the true-color photograph, a spaceborne radar image of the Himalayan Mountains was taken in 1994 in southeast Tibet. Each color is assigned to a different radar frequency that depends of the direction that the radar was transmitted.

Spaceborne Radar image of Southeast Tibet, 1994 (NASA, JPL)
Spaceborne Radar image of Southeast Tibet, 1994 (NASA, JPL)
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