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Earthquake damage seen from space

By: Katherine Butler on Sept. 23, 2012, 4:09 p.m.
Japanese tsunami before and after

Photo: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

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The coast of Japan

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake rattled the coast of Japan near Honsu. The earthquake and resulting tsunami rocked the entire east coast of Japan, resulting in 15,703 deaths, 4,647 missing and 5,314 injured. Hundreds of thousands more were displaced.


The photo of the left was taken on March 14, 2011. The photo on the right was snapped in August 2008. As NASA describes the photos, “areas covered by vegetation are shown in red, while cities and unvegetated areas are shown in shades of blue-gray.” The red areas of vegetation in the left photo are significantly reduced. The photos were taken by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft.