Images: Satellite images help detect Mayan ruins

Images: Satellite images help detect Mayan ruins

Summary: Satellite imaging from NASA helps researchers detect Mayan ruins, previously undetectable from space because of a dense forest canopy.


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  • Tom Sever

    NASA archaeologist Tom Sever explores the Guatemalan jungle, which hides the ruins of one of the world's oldest and most mysterious civilizations--the Maya. Sever and his partners, archaeologist William Saturno of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, and researcher Daniel Irwin of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., are using advanced imaging technology developed for the space program to uncover the ruins.

    High-resolution satellite imaging, which detects variations in the color of plant life around the ruins, has enabled the researchers to pinpoint the sites of several Mayan settlements from space--before taking a single step into the jungle. The research, primarily conducted at the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville and the University of New Hampshire, is made possible by a partnership between NASA and the Guatemalan Institute of Anthropology and History.

  • IKONOS view of a bajo

    A high-resolution, false-color image taken by the commercial Earth-observation satellite IKONOS shows a Guatemalan "bajo," or a broad lowland area that is often partially submerged during the rainy season. The yellowish areas, which denote discolorations of the dense forest canopy, also pinpoint ancient Mayan building sites.

Topics: Nasa / Space, Software

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