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Peter Kazakov
Peter Kazakov

Chernobyl Image [Extra Quality]

They say the radiation levels are low enough now and it is safe to visit for a short time, but if you are too scared to go yourself, here are 22 chernobyl pictures that will give you a glimpse into what it looks like today.

Chernobyl image

This is an image of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and its surroundings, centered at 51.17 north latitude and 30.15 west longitude. The image was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on its 16th orbit on October 1, 1994. The area is located on the northern border of the Ukraine Republic and was produced by using the L-band (horizontally transmitted and received) polarization. The differences in the intensity are due to differences in vegetation cover, with brighter areas being indicative of more vegetation. These data were acquired as part of a collaboration between NASA and the National Space Agency of Ukraine in Remote Sensing and Earth Sciences. NASA has included several sites provided by the Ukrainian space agency as targets of opportunity during the second flight of SIR-C/X-SAR. The Ukrainian space agency also plans to conduct airborne surveys of these sites during the mission. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is located toward the top of the image near the Pripyat River. The 12-kilometer (7.44-mile)-long cooling pond is easily distinguishable as an elongated dark shape in the center near the top of the image. The reactor complex is visible as the bright area to the extreme left of the cooling pond and the city of Chernobyl is the bright area just below the cooling pond next to the Pripyat River. The large dark area in the bottom right of the image is the Kiev Reservoir just north of Kiev. Also visible is the Dnieper River, which feeds into the Kiev Reservoir from the top of the image. The Soviet government evacuated 116,000 people within 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) of the Chernobyl reactor after the explosion and fire on April 26, 1986.Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) is part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth. The radars illuminate Earth with microwaves, allowing detailed observations at any time, regardless of weather or sunlight conditions. SIR-C/X-SAR uses three microwave wavelengths: L-band (24 cm), C-band (6 cm) and X-band (3 cm). The multi-frequency data will be used by the international scientific community to better understand the global environment and how it is changing. The SIR-C/X-SAR data, complemented by aircraft and ground studies, will give scientists clearer insights into those environmental changes which are caused by nature and those changes which are induced by human activity. SIR-C was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. X-SAR was developed by the Dornier and Alenia Spazio companies for the German space agency, Deutsche Agentur fuer Raumfahrtangelegenheiten (DARA), and the Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), with the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fuer Luft und Raumfahrt e.v.(DLR), the major partner in science, operations and data processing of X-SAR.

EarthViews is a continuing series in which we share a USGS Image of the Week featuring the USGS/NASA Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to natural and human-caused land change over time, check back every Friday to finish your week with a visual flourish!

Landsat revealed more than that. Images acquired before the explosion show heated water being pumped from the plant into the adjacent cooling pond and circulating counter-clockwise. Under normal circumstances, Landsat 5's thermal infrared band 6 would confirm that the heated water-orange in the image-gradually turns yellow and then blue as it cools. But the image from April 29 indicates all the water in the pond is the same temperature, evidence the plant was not operating.

Pressed by growing evidence from Landsat and other satellite imagery, reticent Soviet officials only slowly confirmed the facts. General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev did not speak publicly about the disaster until May 14, 1986. Pripyat was abandoned, its people relocated.

At present, the natural environment in the 18-mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl continues to recover. These Landsat images show the change from a previously vibrant agricultural and forestry economy in April 1986 to October 2015, when crops have been replaced by thick grasslands. Today, nearby farm fields are excluded from use by government officials-a prohibition expected to remain for a long time.

The abandoned city of Pripyat, home to the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, lies on the Pripyat River in northern Ukraine, near the Belarus boarder. Three days after the April 26, 1986, nuclear accident, Landsat 5 acquired this image of the region. The power plant explosion and ensuing fire released highly radioactive nuclear fallout into the atmosphere, affecting region tens to hundreds of miles from the plant. This natural color Landsat 5 image uses TM bands 3,2,1.

"Unreasonable restrictions", such as the prohibition on filming in the area, will be lifted, he said, and Ukraine will "popularise" tourism of Chernobyl at international events to change the image of the area as a ghost town.

Because of defective intelligence based on satellite imagery, it was thought that unit number three had also had a dire accident. Journalists mistrusted many professionals, and they in turn encouraged the public to mistrust them.

He says, 'When I first looked at the image I wasn't surprised to see a fox in such a bleak environment. If any species could still make it in such desolate conditions, it would be the almost ubiquitous and resourceful red fox.

And, lingering health risks aside, it's apparently not quite the apocalyptic wasteland one might expect. As Hamburg Museum of Art photography expert Esther Ruelfs said about Russian photographer Andrej Krementschouk's images captured inside Chernobyl in recent years:

With an outbreak of wildfires recently threatening the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the Copernicus Emergency Mapping Service has been activated and the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite mission has imaged the fires and smoke, and mapped the resulting area of burned ground. googletag.cmd.push(function() googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1449240174198-2'); ); Thankfully, heavy rain yesterday means that most of the flames have now been extinguished. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian authorities also reported yesterday that there was still more than 500 firefighters, 124 fire engines and several helicopters still working to contain the smouldering.

The mission is being used as part of an activation of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service to provide maps of the burned area to help authorities respond to the consequences of this recent fire. The image on the right is an example of a map being provided through the service.

The animation featured above uses images from Copernicus Sentinel-2 to show the situation prior to the fires on 7 April, and then on 12 April. The image from 12 April is from one acquisition, but has been processed to show the smoke from the fires and then the burned area through the smoke.

There are also several referrals to a graphite fire occurring during the October 1957 accident at Windscale Pile No. 1 in the UK. However, images obtained from inside the Pile several decades after the accident showed that the graphite was relatively undamaged. [Back]

j. The United Nations Scientific Commission on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is the UN body with a mandate from the General Assembly to assess and report levels and health effects of exposure to ionizing radiation. Exposures and effects of the Chernobyl accident, Annex J to Volume II of the 2000 United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation Report to the General Assembly, is available at the UNSCEAR 2000 Report Vol. II webpage ( It is also available (along with other reports) on the webpage for UNSCEAR's assessments of the radiation effects of The Chernobyl accident ( The conclusions from Annex J of the UNSCEAR 2000 report are in Chernobyl Accident Appendix: Health Impacts [Back]

Since the beginning of the invasion of Russian troops we have been writing about the use of satellite data to support the people of Ukraine. From a list of companies that provide satellite imagery, to an overview of satellite images of destroyed cities, we collect all these stories on a special page.

An outbreak of wildfires recently threatening the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The animation above uses images from Copernicus Sentinel-2 to show the situation prior to the fires on 7 April, and then on 12 April. The image from 12 April is from one acquisition, but has been processed to show thermal anomalies, smoke from the fires and then the burned area through the smoke.

"At this point, the fire is about 250 acres (100 hectares)," NASA officials wrote in an image description (opens in new tab). "Actively burning fires, detected by thermal bands, are shown as red points." 041b061a72


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