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Bird's eye view of the Bay area

Mauritania's Richat Structure

Seeing Saudi Arabia go green

Alaska's Malaspina Glacier

Bolivian deforestation

The Icelandic Tiger

Shrinking Lake Chad

Real "Starry Night"

Waldo Canyon Fire

Super Bowl XLVI

Suburban Atlanta heat map

Urban Atlanta's heat island

Las Vegas sprawls out

Mount St. Helens

Tsunami invades Japan

To kick off this 40th anniversary gallery of images collected over the decades from NASA's Earth observation program, we might as well start with a Landsat shot that appeals to the narcissistic side of many CNET readers -- this is a view of the San Francisco Bay Area as of 2011.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/GSFC
As part of Landsat's 40th birthday celebration, NASA and the USGS have highlighted a handful of "earth as art" images. This one is a shot of the Richat Structure in the African country of Mauritania. It formed when a volcanic dome hardened and gradually eroded, exposing the dramatic rock layers.
Caption by / Photo by USGS/EROS
Landsat images from the past 25 years demonstrate how Saudi Arabia has turned its arid lands green through tapping underground aquifers. Healthy vegetation appears bright green while dry vegetation appears orange. Barren soil is a dark pink, and urban areas, like the town of Tubarjal at the top of each image, have a purple hue.
Caption by / Photo by NASA/GSFC
Alaska's Malaspina Glacier as seen from Landsat, another from the "earth as art" collection.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
These images show the progression -- from left to right -- of agricultural development's encroachment into a tropical forest in Bolivia.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
When seen through Landsat's eye in the sky, Iceland's northern coast looks like a fierce tiger's head, right down to the coloration.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
Between the first image on the left of Lake Chad -- taken in 1972 -- and the most recent taken in 2002 on the left, it's possible to see how much persistent drought has shrunken the body of water.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
Another in the "earth as art" series, phytoplankton swirling in the waters around the Swedish island of Gotland mimic Van Gogh's classic "Starry Night."
Caption by / Photo by USGS
Landsat flew over the recent Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, showing the charred area in black.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
Here's Landsat's view of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, shortly before Super Bowl XLVI.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
Landsat captured these thermal images of suburban Atlanta. Compare with the next slide of urban Atlanta for an illustration of the heat island effect.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
These thermal images of urban Atlanta show the "heat island" effect, especially when compared with the previous slide of a cooler suburban area just outside the city.
Caption by / Photo by NASA
Landsat 5 spent more than 25 years chronicling the rapid expansion of the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
This is a 1999 view of Mount St. Helens from Landsat.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
Captured shortly after a massive earthquake and tsunami rocked Sendai, Japan, in 2011, this shot from Landsat shows only a portion of the damage and infiltration of the landscape made by the wave and accompanying flood waters.
Caption by / Photo by USGS
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