Wild West Africa


Silt washes into the Atlantic Ocean from rivers in Guinea-Bissau, a small country in West Africa, in this false-color composite image from the Landsat 7 satellite.

You’re excused if this picture triggers a flashback to a trippy “Space” jam at a Grateful Dead show, but chill out: It’s just an image of Guinea-Bissau, a small country in West Africa, made by the Landsat 7 satellite as it peered down at Earth from its 438-mile-high orbit.

The patterns in the country’s shallow coastal waters are created by silt that’s been carried by the Geba River and other streams into the Atlantic Ocean. However, this isn’t what the country looks like to the naked eye in outer space. Instead, the color-coded image was produced using infrared, red, and blue filters to bring out details in the silt. This online tutorial explains more about the trippy color scheme.

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Click through this year’s “Earth as Art” slideshow for more out-of-this-world Earth imagery.

This picture of Guinea-Bissau serves as one of the final visual treats in our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar. For additional views of Earth from space, check out these past offerings. We’ve also included links to other online Advent calendars that have been serving up space images daily since the beginning of the month:

* The Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar so far * Door 1 for Dec. 1: Shuttle in spotlight * Door 2 for Dec. 2: ‘Alien’ lake seen from space * Door 3 for Dec. 3: Egypt’s river of light * Door 4 for Dec. 4: Tallest building reaches for the sky * Door 5 for Dec. 5: Russia’s dazzling delta * Door 6 for Dec. 6: Space skipper vs. the world * Door 7 for Dec. 7: Pearl Harbor from the heavens * Door 8 for Dec. 8: Listening for E.T. * Door 9 for Dec. 9: Blast from the past * Door 10 for Dec. 10: Volcano caught in the act * Door 11 for Dec. 11: Chronicling climate change * Door 12 for Dec. 12: Happy St. Lucy’s Day * Door 13 for Dec. 13: Viva Las Vegas * Door 14 for Dec. 14: Don’t wake the volcanoes * Door 15 for Dec. 15: Stairways to heaven * Door 16 for Dec. 16: White Christmas in the Midwest * Door 17 for Dec. 17: Tracks in the sky * Door 18 for Dec. 18: Amelia Earhart’s final resting place? * Door 19 for Dec. 19: Lunar eclipse as seen from space * Door 20 for Dec. 20: Our pale blue dot * Door 21 for Dec. 21: Celebrate the longest night * The Big Picture at Boston.com: Hubble Advent calendar * Planetary Society: Solar system Advent calendar * Zooniverse Advent calendar

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Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the “like” button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following msnbc.com’s science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).

URL: http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/22/5697058-holiday-calendar-wild-west-africa?chromedomain=cosmiclog

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