NASA ogles California wildflower super bloom from space

Even NASA satellites like to gawk at all the pretty colors.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

NASA's Landsat 8 satellite captured this image on March 13. The blush of yellow near the center marks the super bloom.

Lauren Dauphin/NASA/USGS

A rainy winter in Southern California has transformed parts of the desert into a colorful wildflower spectacular known as a super bloom. NASA's Landsat 8 satellite got in on the tourist action from orbit by snapping a lovely image of a bloom gracing the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Down on Earth, people are seeing masses of golden poppies, purple sand verbena and yellow desert dandelions. From space, it looks like a impressionistic blush of color has been smeared across the landscape. Look for the pale yellow patches near the center of the image to spot the bloom.

For a closer look at the flowering fiesta, you can check out a video posted to Twitter this week by the University of California, Irvine's Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center.

NASA says this year's extraordinary bloom is due in part to drought conditions killing off invasive grasses that can impede the wildflowers. The wet winter then primed the plants for a spectacular show in early 2019. 

The space agency's Earth Observatory site posted an image that lets you swipe between November 2018 and March 2019 to see how the brown and tan scenery has turned to green and yellow.

NASA's satellite is located blissfully far from the tourist crush down on the planet's surface. The city of Lake Elsinore is home to a massive poppy bloom in a nearby canyon. The town has described the phenomenon and the rush of traffic as a "poppy nightmare."

For those lucky enough to visit the blooms in person, it's a visual treat. The rest of us will have to enjoy it from afar through social media and the satellite view.

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