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August 19, 2016

Sentinel 2A's coverage shows it can be a great complement to Landsat imagery.

EarthViews is a continuing series in which we share a USGS Image of the Week featuring the USGS/NASA Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to natural and human-caused land change over time, check back every Friday to finish your week with a visual flourish!

Image shows a satellite image of Crater Lake with the National Park boundary in yellow.
A Sentinel 2A image of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Taken on May 28, 2016. Credit: European Space Agency.

The EarthView: Crater Lake Image Shows Potential of Sentinel-2A


This image from the European Space Agency's Sentinel-2A satellite offers a breathtaking view of Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. It offers something equally important to park managers, scientists, and anyone else interested in land cover change—a view that is highly similar and complementary to Landsat acquisitions.

In this 100th anniversary year of the National Park Service, land managers and scientists tasked with overseeing parks and other government-owned lands typically rely on frequent remote imaging to monitor changes to forests, vegetation, hydrology, and more. Frequent imagery means observers can detect change quicker, and address or manage the effects of change in a more timely fashion.

With its potential repeat coverage of every 10 days, Sentinel-2A should eventually provide additional revisit opportunities to the 8-day coverage from Landsats 7 and 8 combined. Sentinel-2A has spectral bands similar to Landsat 8, with a higher spatial resolution in several bands. So at Crater Lake, for example, a hydrologist seeking information on the amount of snow cover in the high country around the lake, and the subsequent snowmelt, should benefit in the future from more potential images.

Beyond scientific use, Sentinel-2A, like the Landsat satellites, offers a stunning view of the national park, which was established in 1902—14 years before the National Park Service came into being. Crater Lake formed 7,700 years ago when the volcano Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed into itself, creating the deepest lake in the United States. A burn scar visible just north of the lake in this image was caused by a wildfire in August 2015.

Sentinel-2A imagery is free and can be downloaded through EarthExplorer or GloVis, online search and order tools available through USGS.

Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.

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