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Jack Frost nipping at Alaska's nose

Jeff Schmaltz / NASA MODIS / GSFC

This outer-space view of southwest Alaska was captured on Nov. 21 by the MODIS imager on NASA's Aqua satellite.



This satellite picture captures a broad view of southwest Alaska just as Jack Frost is nipping at the northernmost state's "nose."

NASA's Aqua satellite took aim at the region with its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, on Nov. 21. Even though that's a month before the official start of winter, Arctic sea ice is beginning to form, creating white tendrils that spread out from the Alaska Peninsula (a geological feature that always reminds me of an elephant's nose).

If you take a close look at the picture, you can trace the snow-covered volcanoes on the peninsula, the tan patches of bare land, the bright reflections from Alaska's frozen rivers and the deep green boreal forests breaking through a white blanket of frost. Need a closer look? Check out this 4-megabyte, 250-meter-resolution version from NASA's MODIS website. To get your bearings, compare the recent view with this annotated satellite picture from Google Maps.

This frosty look at Alaska serves as today's offering from the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which features a fresh view of Earth from space every day from now until Christmas. Follow the links below to feast your eyes on more visual goodies for the holiday season:


Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other science and space news coverage, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered via email. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.