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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light


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This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years in each case.

In 1983, black smoke came pouring out of Mt. Jinan and hot lava flowed down its side. The people on the island were very worried that Mt. Oyama, which is much larger, might also be preparing to erupt.

Remember that when an object is hot it gives off a special kind of light called infrared radiation. The infrared radiation, given off by the two mountains, was measured from space.

Engineers made a 3-D image of the mountain and laid the ground surface temperature map on top of it. This map indicates the temperature of a given region by its color. The legend that tells which temperature corresponds to each color is at the bottom of the image. For example, the pink areas are the hottest, the browns and yellows and greens are much cooler. You can clearly see the hot lava flows in pink. The people of the island were releaved to see that Mt. Oyama was cool. It was not going to erupt.

In this case, looking at the mountain in infrared was very important in deciding how to deal with a potentially dangerous situation and keep people safe.


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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects radiate in the infrared. The warmer the object, the higher the frequency and intensity of the radiation. Very hot objects give off other types of radiation in addition to infrared. Click...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

The awesome power of a giant black hole was revealed by looking at this galaxy in three different types of light. The picture that you see is of Centaurus A, a very peculiar galaxy. A galaxy is just a...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a plant in Gary, Indiana where power is made. We use power to run things like television sets, radios, lights, and microwave ovens. The picture looks very strange because it was taken in infrared....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF