Satellite Photos Before and After of Japan’s Earthquake, Tsunami

by Nancy Atkinson on March 14, 2011

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Arahama, Japan after the disaster. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Photos from the GeoEye satellite imaging company from before and after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan show sobering views from above of the disaster. Above is the town of Sendai, Japan after the quake, below is how it looked before catastrophe struck.

Arahama, Japan before the disaster. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

See more below.

The Sendai Airport after the disaster. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

The Sendai Airport in August of 2010. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Yuriage, Japan on March 12, 2011. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Yuriage, Japan on April 4, 2010. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Sendai, Japan on March 12, 2011. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Sendai, Japan on April 4, 2010. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Ishinomaki, Japan on March 12, 2011. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Ishinomaki, Japan on April 4, 2010. Satellite image courtesy of GeoEye.

Below is an images from the MODIS Rapid Response System, which is producing twice-daily images of Japan in response to the disaster.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite took the right image on Mar. 13, 2011, while the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite took the left image on Feb 26, 2011. NASA images courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.

These two images, from the MODIS instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite from Mar. 13, 2011 on the right, and the the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Terra satellite from Feb. 26, 2011 on the left before the earthquake and tsunami. Both images were made with infrared and visible light to highlight the presence of water on the ground. Plant-covered land is bright green, bare earth is tan-pink, and snow is blue. The city of Sendai is brown.

At this level of detail, the flooding along the coastline is the most obvious sign of the destructive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11. A bright orange-red spot near the city of Sendai is the thermal signature from a fire, also likely caused by the earthquake. The photo-like true-color version of the image shows a plume of black smoke extending east over the ocean.

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is responding through its Center for Satellite Based Crisis Information (Zentrum fur Satellitengestutzte Kriseninformation; ZKI), based at its site in Oberpfaffenhofen, and provided the image below.

Japan's Coastline Before and After the Tsunami These images show the effects of the tsunami on Japan's coastline. The image on the left was taken on Sept. 5, 2010; the image on the right was taken on March 12, 2011, one day after an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the island nation. Image Credit: German Aerospace Center (DLR)/Rapid Eye

Sources: GeoEye, New York Times, NASA, Space Daily

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Aqua March 15, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Each image deepens my sorrow
There are not enough words to fill the void.
The sudden, catastrophic loss,
leaves only tears to console the living.

shzad1 March 16, 2011 at 12:53 AM

Japan Earthquake Tsunami Satellite Photos Before & After See Photos of Disaster

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