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Best seat to watch Olympics could be in space

'Tub ring' at base of Wasatch mountains shows ancient coastline. Click on icon for panoramic view.
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'Tub ring' at base of Wasatch mountains shows ancient coastline. Click on icon for panoramic view.  


Richard Stenger
CNN Sci-Tech

(CNN) -- The space shuttle and a fleet of satellites have teamed up to strike gold in the Winter Games, shooting breathtaking pictures and movies of the snowy Olympic venues around Salt Lake City, Utah.

An impressive view that showcases the Wasatch Mountains comes courtesy of the space shuttle Endeavour.

One year ago the spacecraft flew with a 200-foot-long mast to generate a precise collection of 3-D radar maps of much of the planet.

The formidable mountain range looms over the host Olympic city and environs as well as the edge of Great Salt Lake in this color-enhanced image.

Salt Lake seasonally displays dry browns and snowy whites.
Salt Lake seasonally displays dry browns and snowy whites.  
  COOL RIDE
NASA animation of satellite pics that starts in space and zooms to Olympic stadium.
 

The water body is a remnant of the much larger Lake Bonneville, whose ancient shoreline remains visible along the base of the mountains as a light-colored bathtub ring.

The thin, salt line

NASA satellites have captured more recent transformations in the Utah landscape, which experiences unrelenting barrages of seasonal snow followed by prolonged bouts of dryness.

The Terra Earth Observing Spacecraft took these corresponding pictures of Salt Lake City in winter and late spring in 2001. The lower picture was taken February 8, the upper on June 16. The Utah capital borders the southeast coast of Great Salt Lake. The Wasatch Mountains are directly east.

Many of the sports venues, both indoor and outdoor, are situated somewhere within the twin images.

The strange line dividing the extremely shallow lake into two different colors is no illusion. It marks a causeway built in 1955 to support a railroad.

The rock-filled structure slowed water movement between the two areas, making the northern stretch much saltier, according to NASA scientists.

Bionic birds-eye

Click on icon to zoom in nearly to the treetops over this Olympic venue.
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Click on icon to zoom in nearly to the treetops over this Olympic venue.  

A commercial satellite has joined its NASA brethren in the Olympic spirit.

On January 7, the IKONOS orbiter took aim at the mountain resort where the skiing, slalom, luge and snowboarding events are being held.

The image of Park City, Utah, has been turned upside down for better viewing, according to Space Imaging, which operates the orbiter.

IKONOS is the first private satellite that can resolve features on the ground as small as one meter.



 
 
 
 


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