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Holiday calendar: Christmas tree? No, it's Iceland


Iceland's Westfjords Peninsula looks a bit like a Christmas tree in a radar image from the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite.

Just in time for the holidays, the European Space Agency sends along a radar image of Iceland's Westfjords Peninsula, shaped like a Christmas tree and swathed in festive false colors.

The picture is based on data collected by ESA's Envisat satellite in 2004, 2007 and 2008. The black-and-white "tree" traces the peninsula's terrain. Those different colors map subtle variations in the radar reflectivity of North Atlantic waters and the fjords that poke into the peninsula. If you look closely at one of the fjords, near the center of the image, you can see white dots that mark the radar signature of the peninsula's largest town, Ísafjörður. Who knows? Ísafjörður may be one of the first stops for Santa's sleigh.

This holiday view of Iceland is part of the Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which highlights daily views of Earth from space from Dec. 1 to 25. For more Advent calendar goodies, check out The Atlantic's Hubble Advent CalendarZooniverse's Advent calendar and the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar.

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. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.

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