Although the extraction of mineral wealth has been the major influence in the
history of Johannesburg and the surrounding Witwatersrand regions (with about
45% of all gold ever mined coming from there), the discovery of now-famous
hominid fossils at the Sterkfontein Caves and the convening of the
world’s largest-ever conference on environment and development are
setting a new stage for the future. The United Nations began the second
Development and Environment Conference in Johannesburg on August 26, 2002. This
meeting addresses the implementation of international goals to fight poverty and
protect the global environment that were established at the first such
conference held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Johannesburg summit involves
about 40,000 participants and roughly 100 world leaders. One of several
official opening ceremonies for the conference was held at the Sterkfontein
Caves to recognize the outstanding universal value of the paleo-anthropological
fossils found there.
These views from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) highlight a
number of the land use, vegetation, and geological features found within Gauteng
Province (including the urban center of Johannesburg and the capital city
Pretoria) and parts of the North West and Free State Provinces. The image on the
right displays vegetation in red hues and is a false-color view utilizing data
from MISR’s near-infrared, red, and blue bands. Both the natural-color view
(left) and the false-color version were acquired by MISR’s nadir camera on
June 16, 2002. The urban areas appear as gray-colored pixels in the
natural-color view and exhibit colors corresponding with the relative abundance
of vegetation found in the urban parts of this arid region.
The mountains trending east-west near the center of the images extend from
Pretoria in the east to Rustenberg in the west. These ranges, the Magaliesberg
and Witwatersberg, separate the low-lying, hotter bushveld to the north from the
cooler highveld to the south. The large round feature near the northwest corner
indicates an ancient volcanic crater in the Pilanesberg National Park. Many
bright, buff-colored rectangular patches around Johannesburg are associated with
mining activities, and at least two of these areas (situated 40 kilometers
southeast of the city) hold large amounts of water. The Sterkfontein Caves (now
included within the recently created “Cradle of Humankind” World Heritage Site)
are located about 35 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg. In the southern
portion of the images, a section of the Vredefort Hills are apparent to the
west, and to the east the Vaal River, a large water body contained by the
Vaal Dam delineate the border between the Gauteng and Free State provinces.
The Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer observes the daylit Earth
continuously from pole to pole and views almost the entire globe every 9 days.
This image covers an area of about 190 kilometers by 221 kilometers.