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Holiday calendar: Grand Canyon, seen and unseen


This view of the Grand Canyon is a mosaic of Landsat 8 satellite images acquired on Oct. 31 and Nov. 9. Check out the Landsat website for the wide-screen picture.

The Grand Canyon twists through Arizona for 277 miles, creating a spindly signature that satellites can see from hundreds of miles up. But not every view of the natural wonder is as clear as Landsat 8's imagery from October and November. Last week, the canyon was shrouded with thick fog — and satellites were on hand to see that as well.

NASA's Earth Observatory website highlights pictures from those foggy days, including aerial views from the Terra and Aqua satellites as well as a time-lapse video from the GOES-West satellite. These images documenting the ebb and flow of the Grand Canyon's fog are the latest offerings from our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which is providing a daily dose of satellite imagery through Christmas. For more holiday goodies, check out The Atlantic's Hubble Advent CalendarZooniverse's Advent calendar and the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, fog filled the entire Grand Canyon due to a temperature inversion. NBC's Brian Williams reports.


A Nov. 30 image from NASA's Terra satellite shows fog encroaching on Grand Canyon's Mather Point. Meanwhile, Lake Mead is clearly visible on the left side.

This animation from the GOES-West weather satellite shows the ebb and flow of fog at the Grand Canyon between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2.

Mike Hopkins / NASA

And now for something completely different: a picture of the Grand Canyon from NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, aboard the International Space Station. "I've been to the bottom and now [have] seen it from 260 miles up. Shadows can cause visual effects," he said in a Nov. 1 tweet.

Previously on the Space Advent Calendar:

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