Skip to Content
Uncategorized

NASA Satellite Images Burma Cyclone

A novel imaging instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite captures the devastation that Cyclone Nargis caused to the Myanmar coast.

NASA has captured the effects of the powerful cyclone that struck the Myanmar coast on Saturday, May 3, using an imaging instrument onboard its Terra satellite. The instrument, called the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS), measures the reflective solar radiation and emitted thermal radiation from the earth’s surface and atmosphere. Atmospheric scientists are currently using the instrument to study the behavior of clouds and aerosols in our atmosphere so that they can, for example, pinpoint the locations of active fires and track the paths of pollutants.

The instrument scans broad swaths of the earth–about 2,300 kilometers at a time–and is able to image the entire earth in one day. Because it is observing the earth all the time, MODIS is able to capture events that only happen occasionally, like Cyclone Nargis.

Credit: NASA

MODIS captured images of the Myanmar coast before and after Cyclone Nargis struck. The image on the left is the coastline on April 15, and the image on the right was taken May 5, after the cyclone hit the Irrawaddy delta and plowed across the country and through the main city of Rangoon. At landfall, winds were approximately 130 miles per hour, with gusts of 150 to 160 miles per hour, accompanied by a 12-foot wave. In the images, the water is blue or nearly black, vegetation is bright green, bare ground is tan, and clouds are white or light blue.

U.S. diplomats in Burma are estimating that the death toll may reach nearly 100,000, but official reports from the Burmese junta are announcing 22,980 deaths, 42,119 missing, and 1,383 injured.

You can see more images of the cyclone, courtesy of MODIS, here.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

pig kidney transplant surgery
pig kidney transplant surgery

Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient

The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.