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Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory

World - Amazing Earth: Satellite Images From 2020

In the vastness of the universe, the life-bringing beauty of our home planet shines bright.

During this tumultuous year, our satellites captured some pockets of peace, while documenting data and striking visuals of unprecedented natural disasters. As 2020 comes to a close, we’re diving into some of the devastation, wonders, and anomalies this year had to offer.

NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites and instruments on the International Space Station unravel the complexities of the blue marble from a cosmic vantage point. These robotic scientists orbit our globe constantly, monitoring and notating changes, providing crucial information to researchers here on the ground.

Take a glance at 2020 through the lens of NASA satellites:

A Delta Oasis in Southeastern Kazakhstan

Seen from space, the icy Ili River Delta contrasts sharply with the beige expansive deserts of southeastern Kazakhstan.

When the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this natural-color image on March 7, 2020, the delta was just starting to shake off the chill of winter. While many of the delta’s lakes and ponds were still frozen, the ice on Lake Balkhash was breaking up, revealing swirls of sediment and the shallow, sandy bed of the western part of the lake.

The expansive delta and estuary is an oasis for life year round. Hundreds of plant and animal species call it home, including dozens that are threatened or endangered. In 2012, Kazakhstan declared the delta a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, a treaty that encourages the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands throughout the world.

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