Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 17:30 EDT
The Big Island of Hawaii
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The Big Island of Hawaii

October 10, 2003
Boasting snow-covered mountain peaks and tropical forest, the Island of Hawaii, the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, is stunning at any altitude. This false-color composite (processed to simulate true color) image of Hawaii was constructed from data gathered between 1999 and 2001 by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper plus (ETM+) instrument, flying aboard the Landsat 7 satellite. The black areas on the island (in this scene) that resemble a pair of sun-baked palm fronds are hardened lava flows formed by the active Mauna Loa Volcano. Heavy rainfall and fertile volcanic soil have given rise to Hawaii’s lush tropical forests, which appear as solid dark green areas in the image. The light green, patchy areas near the coasts are likely sugar cane plantations, pineapple farms, and human settlements.