Nasa Captured California’s ‘Unexpected’ Poppy Bloom From Space

Ashlyn Davis Ashlyn Davis

poppy bloom space

Yes, it’s literally out of this world!

While we were indoors making banana bread and whipped cream coffee last month, the poppies in the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve were positively thriving. The rolling hills, set between the green pastoral land and solar farms, turned into eye-popping blankets of orange that were so vivid they could be seen from space.

NASA shared incredible photos that the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite managed to take from space. The photos even capture the subtle movements of the Eschscholzia California (the golden poppy) fields. While the bloom was a little delayed this year, “significant rainfall” in March in April resulted in this unexpected pops of color that lasted longer than expected. The photos were taken on April 14, 2020, as that was assumed to be the peak bloom period.

Possibly one of the most beautiful aspects of the delicate flower is how it responds to the weather conditions. They tend to close up when its windy or cold and open out into perfect orange cups to catch some of that California sun. So on any given day, at any given hour the landscape could look completely different.

poppy space
Photo: NASA

While the park has been closed off to the public since the lockdown, there are still ways to enjoy the bloom. You can catch the display on the Antelope Valley California Reserve live cam or you can let State Park Interpreter Jean Rhyne take you on a seven-minute guided virtual tour. 

There’s no denying that the poppies are the stars of the show, attracting thousands of visitors every year, the fields have a few other contenders that deserve some attention. On the Earth Observatory website NASA points out that “cream cups, forget-me-nots, purple bush lupines, and yellow goldfields (a relative of the sunflower)” could also be seen.

Free of trampling, the plants were given some room to shine and they really did go above and beyond this year.

All Images: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey

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