Earth from Space: Berlin snowbound

14 January 2011

This wintery ALOS image captures the German capital city of Berlin surrounded by snow. Home to 3.4 million people, Berlin has the second largest population (within city limits) in the European Union after London, UK.

Berlin lies in northeastern Germany, in the wide glacial valley of the Spree River, which can be seen in the image flowing east to west through the city.

Berlin's three airports can be seen in the image. Tegel airport, which is the long thin structure to the northwest of the centre, the old Tempelhof airport is the large hexagonal structure just south of the city and the new Brandenburg International, which is being developed on the site of Schönefeld airport and set to replace the three old airports, lies to the southwest covered by snow.

The Tiergarten, which can be seen on the south bank of the River Spree, is one of Europe's largest inner-city parks. The area around Berlin, however, is renowned for forests and lakes. Covering around 7.5 sq km, Müggelsee is the biggest of these lakes, in the eastern suburbs.

Winters in Berlin are typically cold. Although this winter is proving challenging, that of 2009–2010 also saw an abundance of snow and ice.

This image was captured on 20 December 2009 by the Japanese ALOS satellite with its Advanced Visible and Near Infrared Radiometer type-2 (AVNIR-2) instrument. The instrument is designed to chart land cover and vegetation in visible and near-infrared spectral bands, at a resolution of 10 metres.

In addition to AVNIR-2, ALOS also carries the Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) instrument – a microwave radar instrument that can acquire observations during both day and night and through any weather conditions – and the Panchromatic Remote-sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping (PRISM), which can observe selected areas in three dimensions, down to a 2.5-m spatial resolution.

ESA supports ALOS as a Third Party Mission, which means ESA utilises its multi-mission European ground infrastructure and expertise to acquire, process and distribute data from the satellite to its wide user community.

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