Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Satellite sees world's largest human gathering from space
Posted: January 26, 2001

Before the event: This one-meter resolution, satellite image, shows the area near Allahabad, India at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers where the Maha Kumbh Mela will be held. Credit: SEE FULL PAGE IMAGE
Maha Kumbh Mela at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 23, 2001 at the start of the most sacred and busiest bathing day (Mauni Amavasya) of the festival. Credit: SEE FULL PAGE IMAGE
Tightly-cropped image of the Maha Kumbh Mela from above view. The image clearly shows masses of worshipers bathing in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.  Also notice that the shape of the sand banks in the river has changed from the May "before" image. A reported 30 million people bathed in the rivers during the day to wash away their sins. Credit: SEE FULL PAGE IMAGE
Space Imaging's Ikonos satellite has taken a detailed color photograph of the largest human gathering in the history of the world, the Maha Kumbh Mela, a spiritual event held every 144 years in Northern India. The festival is expected to attract 70 million people to a sacred location on the Ganges River, 15 km from Allahabad, for more than a month of bathing rituals.

The Ikonos image, which was collected the day before the most sacred and busiest bathing day on January 24, is available for free to the media. A "before" image shows the area prior to the event.

The one-meter resolution image of the Maha Kumbh Mela was collected by Space Imaging's Ikonos satellite, which travels four miles per-second in an orbit 423 miles above Earth. The spectacular image is the first high-resolution satellite image ever taken of such an event. The image shows the sacred site at the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers where millions of Hindu worshippers bathe to wash away their sins and hasten the Hindu people's progress toward nirvana.

Space Imaging is a leading supplier of visual information products derived from space imagery and aerial photography. The company launched the world's first and only one-meter resolution, commercial Earth imaging satellite, Ikonos, on September. 24, 1999. Other CARTERRA products are produced from the Indian Remote Sensing satellites, the U.S. Landsat, Canada's RADARSAT and the European Space Agency's ERS satellites. Space Imaging also delivers aerial-derived imagery products collected by its own Digital Airborne Imaging System (DAIS-1).