From beyond the outer space, Egypt's Nile River is a streak of blood red flowing from a crimson clump.
Such is the image sent by the European Space Agency's (ESA) newest Sentinel-3A satellite back to Earth on April 1. Recorded on March 1 this year, the flowing blood red is a Biblical scene that has re-incarnated into the modern world.
But fear not — although the scene feels a little eerie, there is a scientific reason as to why the satellite captured this image.
According to ESA, the river is rendered red by the vegetation surrounding it, combined with the type of imaging the Sentinel-3A satellite used to capture the image.
Sentinel-3A's Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) is one of the most sophisticated instruments designed to measure and monitor the planet's land, oceans, atmosphere, and ice for environmental changes.
Simply put, the radiometer measures the energy that radiates from the surface of Earth. The heat that emanates from the vegetation is expressed in the infrared spectrum — thus resulting in the crimson color.
Countless Eyes In The Sky
Launched in February this year, Sentinel-3A is the third of more than a dozen "eyes in the sky" that make up ESA's Copernicus program, the agency's most complex Earth observation system ever created.
The young satellite's radiometer improves upon the abilities of the previous Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer, which was part of the Envisat satellite for 10 years, spanning from 2002 to 2012.
The SLSTR has an impressively wider swath of 1,400 kilometers (869.91 miles), several new channels, as well as a slightly higher partial resolution.
Among many other tasks, Sentinel-3A is equipped to spot forthcoming droughts by perceiving subtle differences in the surface color.
In fact, the satellite could see whether the color change suggests that crops are already failing.
One of its most sophisticated abilities is the power to scan the whole planet in just more than a day and send back its recorded data within hours, providing scientists and policy makers intricate information on environmental changes in real-time.
Additionally, the satellite's ability to measure sea temperatures will also boost short-term weather forecasts and help track the impacts of climate change, experts said.