Arizona Copper As Seen From Orbit

By Keith Cowing
March 21, 2014
Filed under , , ,
Arizona Copper As Seen From Orbit
Arizona Copper

Arizona produces 60% of the total copper mined in the US; in 2007, 750,000 tons of copper came out of the state.
One of the major mining districts is located about 30 km south of Tucson. Starting around 1950, open-pit mining replaced underground operations, and the ASARCO-Mission complex, Twin Buttes, and Sierrita mines became large open pit operations. Accompanying copper mineralization, silver, molybdenum, zinc, lead and gold are extracted. In addition to the pits themselves, enormous leach ponds and tailings piles surround the pits. The image was acquired May 31, 2012, covers an area of 22 by 28 km, and is located at 31.9 degrees north, 111 degrees west.

With its 14 spectral bands from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelength region and its high spatial resolution of 15 to 90 meters (about 50 to 300 feet), ASTER images Earth to map and monitor the changing surface of our planet. ASTER is one of five Earth-observing instruments launched Dec. 18, 1999, on Terra. The instrument was built by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. A joint U.S./Japan science team is responsible for validation and calibration of the instrument and data products.

The broad spectral coverage and high spectral resolution of ASTER provides scientists in numerous disciplines with critical information for surface mapping and monitoring of dynamic conditions and temporal change. Example applications are: monitoring glacial advances and retreats; monitoring potentially active volcanoes; identifying crop stress; determining cloud morphology and physical properties; wetlands evaluation; thermal pollution monitoring; coral reef degradation; surface temperature mapping of soils and geology; and measuring surface heat balance.

The U.S. science team is located at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The Terra mission is part of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. More information about ASTER is available at

Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team Larger image

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.