Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan

Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan
  • Credit:

    NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using data from NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

In a little over a year, it has become Jordan’s fourth largest city. Except it is not a city. It is the world’s second-largest refugee camp.

Located in northern Jordan near the border with Syria, the Zaatari refugee camp opened in July 2012 and now houses roughly 129,000 people, according to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured these false-color images of the area around the camp on May 30, 2009 (top), September 27, 2012 (middle), and July 19, 2013 (bottom). The camp appears brighter than its surroundings due to the white roofs of the thousands of temporary housing units.

According to UNHCR, setting up and expanding the camp has been the equivalent of building a city the size of Cambridge, England, or Fargo, North Dakota, in a single year. There are more than 1.6 million registered Syrian refugees in Jordan and neighboring nations.

Images & Animations


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  • 720x480
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  • Data Date:

    May 30, 2009 - July 19, 2013
  • Visualization Date:

    August 8, 2013
  • Sensor(s):

    Terra - ASTER


NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration