NASA released 3 million satellite images to the public

Lena3
Frozen tundra throughout the winter, the Lena River Delta in Russia thaws in spring, emptying into the Arctic Ocean. NASA/METI/AIST/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team

An instrument called the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer — or ASTER, for short — has been taking pictures of the Earth since it launched into space in 1999.

In that time, it has photographed an incredible 99% of the planet’s surface.

Although it’s aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft, ASTER is a Japanese instrument and most of its data and images weren’t free to the public — until now.

NASA announced April 1 that ASTER’s 2.95 million scenes of our planet are now ready-to-download and analyse for free.

With 16 years’ worth of images, there are a lot to sort through.

Here are our 21 favourites:

[slideshow]
[slide
permalink=”/#many-aster-images-look-like-they-were-colored-in-by-a-little-kid-including-this-one-of-the-andes-mountains-but-thats-because-it-has-an-infrared-camera-that-can-detect-changes-in-surface-temperatures-materials-and-elevation-1″
title=”Many ASTER images look like they were coloured in by a little kid, including this one of the Andes Mountains. But that’s because it has an infrared camera that can detect changes in surface temperatures, materials, and elevation.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47d9″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#this-shot-of-manaus-brazil-is-the-most-popular-image-in-the-aster-gallery-2″
title=”This shot of Manaus, Brazil, is the most popular image in the ASTER gallery.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47da”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-volcanoes-of-the-galapagos-islands-pushed-them-out-of-the-pacific-ocean-3″
title=”The volcanoes of the Galapagos Islands pushed them out of the Pacific Ocean.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47db”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery-detail.asp?name=galapagos”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-10-mile-oresund-bridge-connects-sweden-and-denmark-you-can-see-the-artificial-island-they-constructed-in-the-middle-to-make-the-trip-4″
title=”The 10-mile Oresund Bridge connects Sweden and Denmark. You can see the artificial island they constructed in the middle to make the trip.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47dc”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#north-korea-experienced-one-of-the-countrys-worst-droughts-in-2015-right-you-can-see-how-much-less-vegetation-in-red-there-is-compared-to-2002-on-the-left-5″
title=”North Korea experienced one of the country’s worst droughts in 2015 (right). You can see how much less vegetation (in red) there is compared to 2002 on the left.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47dd”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#jacques-cousteau-took-his-calypso-submarine-into-the-great-blue-hole-in-belize-and-now-you-can-see-the-carbonate-reef-too-6″
title=”Jacques Cousteau took his Calypso submarine into the Great Blue Hole in Belize, and now you can see the carbonate reef, too.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47de”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#this-triangular-deposit-of-gravel-sand-and-salt-in-china-is-called-an-alluvial-fan-7″
title=”This triangular deposit of gravel, sand, and salt in China is called an alluvial fan.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47df”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#venice-italys-400-bridges-and-120-islands-look-a-little-more-complicated-from-space-8″
title=”Venice, Italy’s 400 bridges and 120 islands look a little more complicated from space.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e0″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#ecuadorian-wetlands-were-transformed-into-shrimp-farms-from-1991-top-image-to-2001-bottom-9″
title=”Ecuadorian wetlands were transformed into shrimp farms from 1991 (top image) to 2001 (bottom).”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e1″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-mcmurdo-dry-valleys-in-antarctica-may-be-the-most-mars-like-landscape-we-have-on-earth-10″
title=”The McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica may be the most Mars-like landscape we have on Earth.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e2″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#aster-tracks-the-size-of-glaciers-like-the-malaspina-shown-here-from-alaska-the-ice-is-in-blue-and-vegetation-is-in-yellow-11″
title=”ASTER tracks the size of glaciers, like the Malaspina shown here from Alaska. The ice is in blue and vegetation is in yellow.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e3″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#this-false-color-image-of-the-anti-atlas-mountains-in-morocco-shows-limestone-sandstone-and-gypsum-rocks-in-yellow-orange-and-green-and-granite-in-blue-12″
title=”This false-colour image of the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Morocco shows limestone, sandstone, and gypsum rocks in yellow, orange and green, and granite in blue.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e4″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-inset-image-shows-the-only-ship-that-was-using-the-120-mile-suez-canal-in-egypt-at-the-time-in-may-2000-13″
title=”The inset image shows the only ship that was using the 120-mile Suez Canal in Egypt at the time in May 2000.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e5″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#an-elaborate-system-of-dikes-canals-dams-bridges-and-locks-hold-back-the-north-sea-in-the-netherlands-14″
title=”An elaborate system of dikes, canals, dams, bridges, and locks hold back the North Sea in the Netherlands.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e6″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#this-photo-shows-the-hayman-forest-fire-which-burned-more-than-90000-acres-of-colorado-in-2002-15″
title=”This photo shows the Hayman forest fire, which burned more than 90,000 acres of Colorado in 2002.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e7″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-perfectly-circular-intrusion-of-kondyor-massif-in-russia-formed-when-molten-magma-crystallized-underneath-the-earth-then-rose-to-the-surface-a-stream-flows-out-of-its-center-16″
title=”The perfectly circular intrusion of Kondyor Massif in Russia formed when molten magma crystallised underneath the Earth then rose to the surface. A stream flows out of its center.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e8″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#you-can-see-the-rings-of-shoreline-when-dagze-lake-in-tibet-was-much-larger-it-has-dried-up-over-time-17″
title=”You can see the rings of shoreline when Dagze Lake in Tibet was much larger. It has dried up over time.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47e9″
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#red-hot-lava-flows-out-of-mount-etna-in-italy-18″
title=”Red-hot lava flows out of Mount Etna in Italy.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47ea”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#from-space-the-us-mexico-border-is-starkly-defined-by-the-landscape-farms-are-colored-in-red-so-southern-california-top-half-stands-out-19″
title=”From space, the US-Mexico border is starkly defined by the landscape. Farms are coloured in red, so Southern California (top half) stands out.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47eb”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#the-escondida-mine-in-chiles-atacama-desert-has-transformed-the-landscape-to-extract-precious-metals-like-gold-silver-and-copper-20″
title=”The Escondida Mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert has transformed the landscape to extract precious metals like gold, silver, and copper.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47ec”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[slide
permalink=”/#coastal-winds-form-the-tallest-sand-dunes-in-the-world-in-the-namib-naukluft-national-park-of-namibia-21″
title=”Coastal winds form the tallest sand dunes in the world in the Namib-Naukluft National Park of Namibia.”
content=””
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/56fef35add0895bc148b47ed”
source=”NASA/GSFC/METI/Japan Space Systems/ASTER Science Team”
caption=””
credit_href=”http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gallerymap.asp”
]
[/slideshow]