Part 1—Download Images and Software

Step 1 –
Download MODIS Images

Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments are onboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. Together, the instruments provide views of Earth's entire surface every 1 to 2 days. The growing archive of MODIS imagery allows us to detect and quantify changes on Earth's surface.

  1. Go to the MODIS Rapid Response System Image Gallery. The site will open in a new window.
  2. Enter Aral Sea in the keyword Search field.
  3. Access the images for the following days, and download the 500m pixel size image.
    • 252nd day of 2001.
    • 247th day of 2003.
    • 169th day of 2009.
    • 250th day of 2010.
  1. At the top of the MODIS Rapid Response page, enter Aral Sea in the keyword Search field, and then scroll through the images to find the dates that you are looking for. The most recent images are at the top of the list. In this example the 2010 image is highlighted. The number 250 is the "Julian date", or the 250th day of the year.

  2. Alternately, You can also enter 09/09/2001 in the Date field. This is the 252nd day of 2001, in the Julian calendar, which corresponds to a date of September 9, 2001. Entering the date will give you all the images taken that day. Scroll through them for the Aral Sea images.

  3. Once you have located the image that you want to download, click the "500m link" above the thumbnail. The image will open in a new window.
  4. Click on 500m link
  5. Place your cursor on the image, then right click (Mac users: hold down the ctrl control key and click) to display a menu of choices. Select the option that allows you to download the image and store it on your computer. This command may be Download Image to Disk... or Save Image As..., depending on which browser application you use.
  6. Examples:
    select download image to disk Select Save Image As...
  7. Select a place to store the image. For instance, you might save it in your Downloads folder, or create a new folder named Aral Sea Images.
  8. Keep the default image name, and click Save.
  9. Repeat the steps above to download the 500m pixel size image of the Aral Sea that was taken on the 247 th day of 2003. This corresponds to a date of September 4, 2003.
  10. Repeat the steps above to download the 500m pixel size image of the Aral Sea that was taken on the 169th day of 2009. This corresponds to a date of June 18, 2009.
  11. Repeat the steps above to download the 500m pixel size image of the Aral Sea that was taken on the 250 th day of 2010. This corresponds to a date of September 07, 2010.
The images are located here if you were unable to download them from the MODIS server. Click on the thumbnails for a full sized image and then download the large image to use in the exercise.
2001 Aral Sea Aral Sea 2001

2003 Aral Sea Aral Sea 2003

2009 Aral Sea Aral Sea 2009

sample image 2010 Aral Sea 2010

Step 2 –
Download and Install ImageJ Software

ImageJ is in the public domain. It can be freely downloaded and installed on any computer including those at schools, homes, and businesses.
  1. Go to the ImageJ Download page and open it in a new window.
  2. Click the link that appears directly below the name of your computer's operating system (e.g., Mac, Linux, Windows). This action will transfer a compressed file of the software to your computer. Your browser should automatically expand the file, creating an ImageJ folder on your computer's hard drive.
  3. For more detailed instructions from the ImageJ website, click Installation Instructions, then select your operating system.

Note to Windows Users: It is recommended that you install ImageJ in the Documents directory, rather than in the Program Files directory. For security reasons, Windows 7 and Windows Vista do not allow programs to alter themselves by writing files to the Program Files directory. If ImageJ is installed in the Program Files directory, then the update function in Step 3 below will not work properly. In addition, if you are a Windows Vista user, be sure to choose the correct version of ImageJ (either 32-bit or 64-bit) for your computer.

Step 3 –
Update or Downgrade ImageJ

ImageJ Updater Window ImageJ update dialog box.

Double-click the ImageJ icon ImageJ Icon Small to launch the application and choose Help > Update > ImageJ.... A window will appear, telling you the version you are currently running and a list of upgrade versions. Choose the version you want to upgrade to (usually the most recent, or default version) and click OK. After the update downloads, you will need to re-launch ImageJ to run the new version.


ImageJ Updater Window Options ImageJ update dialog box showing upgrade and downgrade options.

ImageJ is a professional research and analysis tool, and is under constant development. If the latest update of the application introduces new bugs or errors, or has an unfamiliar interface that does not match written instructions, you can downgrade your copy of ImageJ to an older, more stable or familiar version.


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