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'Earth as Art' is remote-sensing experience at NMSU's Skeen Hall

Where some might have seen a blank wall, one scientist at New Mexico State University saw potential. And now that wall is filled with artwork that not only shows the beauty of the Earth but also doubles as an educational experience about different geographical locations around the planet.


Girl looking at art on the wall
Megan Bounds, a sophomore majoring in agricultural business, reads information about the "Earth as Art" display in Skeen Hall. Bounds assisted in mounting the art displays. (NMSU photo by Audry Olmsted)

"Earth as Art" is on display in the teaching laboratory wing of Skeen Hall.

"The data from the images comes from the Landsat series of satellites," said Max P. Bleiweiss, an agricultural research scientist with the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science. "What is unique about these images is that they have very good spatial resolution, so you can see quite a bit of detail as opposed to images from regular weather satellites that do not have as high image quality."

Remotely sensed data is data gathered by instruments that are some distance from the object they are aimed at, such as aerial photographs. For almost 40 years, scientists have used Landsat satellites to gather remotely sensed images of the land surface and surrounding coastal regions for global change research, regional environmental change studies and other civil and commercial purposes.

The images in Skeen Hall were created by the U.S. Geological Survey's National Mapping Division, Earth Resources Observation Systems Data Center. The images are free and clear of copyright.

Bleiweiss, who orchestrated the artistic endeavor, said the images were chosen for their visual beauty, but each image also includes a placard pinpointing where on Earth the image was taken and a little background on that geographical area.

"It's interesting to walk down this hall and see people looking at the images," he said. "That is what this is here for. Hopefully, something will grab their eye and they'll learn a little something about the world around them. Maybe they'll even get interested and want to learn more about remote sensing."

Funding for the display comes courtesy of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' Agricultural Experiment Station; the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science; and the Center for Applied Remote Sensing in Agricultural, Meteorology and Environment.