April 25, 2002
Above is a 1 m resolution, color image taken from the Ikonos satellite on January 1, 2000. It shows the heart of the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Mecca is located in a rocky valley 72 km (45 miles) east of the port city of Jidda. It's Islam's most holy city and is the direction in which Muslims face when they pray. Non Muslims aren't permitted to enter Mecca. Shown above is al-Haram (Great Mosque), and in its interior is the Kaaba (a shrine enclosing a sacred Black Stone) and the well of Zamzam - the focus of the Muslims pilgrimage to Mecca. The al-Haram can hold 300,000 people. The dark blotch surrounding the Kaaba, at center, is a congregation of several thousand Muslims in prayer. It should be noted that January 1 is not New Year's Day on the Islamic calendar.