It looks like an abstract painting or a fragment of pottery. But it’s a view from space along the Kolyma River in eastern Siberia.
NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image showing fall foliage along the Kolyma River in eastern Siberia on September 9, 2015.
Here’s a broader view …
Notice how you can’t see any green vegetation in the northernmost part of the image. Meanwhile, there’s still plenty of green in the valleys and other low-elevation areas farther to the south.
In autumn, leaves on deciduous trees change colors as they lose chlorophyll, the molecule that plants use to synthesize food. Chlorophyll is not a stable compound and plants have to continuously produce it. That process requires ample sunlight and warm temperatures, so when temperatures drop and days shorten, the plant’s chlorophyll production slows down and then stops and eventually all the chlorophyll is destroyed.
Chlorophyll makes plants appear green because it absorbs red and blue sunlight as it strikes leaf surfaces. As concentrations of chlorophyll drop, the green fades, offering a chance for other leaf pigments, – carotenoids and anthocyanins — to show their colors. Carotenoids absorb blue-green and blue light, appearing yellow; anthocyanins absorb blue, blue-green, and green light, appearing red.
Bottom line: NASA Aqua satellite image shows fall foliage along the Kolyma River in eastern Siberia on September 9, 2015.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.