NASA’s photo competition, Tournament Earth 2015, has been won by this dramatic image of faults just south of the Tien Shan mountains, in northwestern Xinjiang province, China, where a series ridges dominates the landscape.
The highest hills reach 1,200 metres above the adjacent basins, and they are decorated with distinctive red, green, and cream-coloured sedimentary rock layers. The colours reflect rocks that formed at different times and in different environments. The red layers near the top of the sequence are Devonian sandstones formed by ancient rivers. The green layers are Silurian sandstones formed in a moderately-deep ocean. The cream-colored layers are Cambrian-Ordovician limestone formed in a shallow ocean.
The Xinjiang image beat runner-up, an image of a bolt of lightning as seen from the International Space Station (below).
The winning shot was an image from a Landsat satellite taken last year by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on Terra.
The runner-up image was snapped by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station on December 12, 2013. It shows a white flash of lightning amidst the yellow city lights of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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