Satellite View of Yellowstone Hot Pools

June 04, 2004


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

The above satellite image showing Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park was acquired by Space Imaging’s IKONOS Satellite on August 17, 2001. Grand Prismatic Spring, perhaps the most striking spring in Yellowstone, is approximately 90 meters (300 feet) across and 50 meters (160 feet) deep. In the center of the pool, the water is 87° C (188° F) -- too hot to support life. However, the cooler water along the edges of the pool is at the right temperature for colonies of thermophilic (heat-loving) cyano-bacteria and algae to thrive. Yellow, orange, and red pigments are produced by this bacteria, which largely accounts for the spectrum of colors displayed in this pool. Yellowstone contains the most concentrated assortment of hot springs and geysers in the world. They're of interest to biologist since they may be similar to environments where life first evolved on Earth.

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