On September 2, 2013, the Aqua satellite passed over Tasmania and southeastern Australia, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard to capture a beautiful clear-sky true-color image of the region.
The mainland of Australia occupies the upper three-quarters of the image, and black borderlines have been overlain on the brilliantly-hued land to delineate boundaries. The bright red land in the northwest corner of the image belongs to the Northern Territory, while Queensland lies to the east. South of Queensland, the land of New South Wales appears arid in the west, and well vegetated (green) closer to the coast. Due west, a cluster of remarkably white salt lakes marks South Australia. Victoria sits at the emerald green tip of Australia.
The mountainous terrain of Tasmania, the southernmost state of Australia, sits about 150 miles south of the mainland and just across the Bass Strait. Approximately the size of West Virginia and the twenty-sixth largest island in the world, Tasmania is a diverse land, with a variety of habitats.
A few small red “hotspots” speckle the green areas of Australia, both on the mainland and Tasmania. These indicate areas where the thermal sensors on the instrument detected temperatures higher than background. When combined with smoke, as most of these are, they indicate actively burning fires.