By HELEN DALRYMPLE
To view the earth in a way that it is seldom seen by the human eye, visitors to the Library of Congress must visit "The Earth as Art" in the hallways outside the Geography and Map Division in the James Madison Memorial Building. Brilliant greens and purples, geometric designs that appear most unworldly, moving swirls that bring to mind the end papers of rare books—all of these images taken by satellites moving across the sky above the earth.
The Library of Congress, in collaboration with the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), is commemorating the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS) with this exhibition, which features 30-by-30-inch high-resolution prints of images from LANDSAT 7. ERTS was the first satellite launched by the United States whose specific purpose was to record imagery of the earth's surface, and Landsat 7 is the current successor to the original ERTS platform.
Landsat 7 is a part of NASA's long-term research effort to better understand and protect the planet earth that we all call home. The USGS' Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center in South Dakota operates Landsat 5 and 7, is the primary U.S. receiving station, maintains the 30-year archive of the U.S. Landsat data, and provides Landsat data to researchers around the world. Landsat 7 has captured more than 400,000 images since its launch in April 1999.
Said Ghassem R. Asrar, NASA associate administrator of the Office of Earth Science, "In essence, this archive of Landsat imagery is the equivalent of having a periodically refreshed family photo album for the entire earth."
Each of the 41 images in the exhibition—all of them from the collections of the Geography and Map Division—has been selected for its artistic appeal rather than for its scientific significance. Some of the landmarks featured in "The Earth as Art" are the Ganges River Delta, Mt. Kilimanjaro, the center-post irrigated farms of Garden City, Kan., and the Everglades. The color-enhanced images of islands, cloud formations, rivers, mountains, cities, deserts and lakes are breathtaking and reveal a unique view of the world.
The exhibition is on view at the Library from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday in the corridor outside the Geography and Map Reading Room on the B level of the Madison Building through July 23, 2003. Selected images from the exhibit were displayed at the Russell Senate Office Building this past July, and will be on view throughout the fall at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. Some of the images will also be on view at the Gaithersburg (Md.) Activity Center from Nov. 18 to Jan. 20, 2003.