This image from the Landsat 8 satellite taken Jan. 29 shows the artificial snow being used for Alpine skiing and sliding sports at the Yanqing Olympic Zone northwest of Beijing. (Image credit: Joshua Stevens/Landsat/NASA Earth Observatory)

A striking new satellite image shows the stark contrast between artificial snow and the otherwise arid and rocky mountains being used at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.  

The photo, which was captured by the Landsat 8 satellite on Jan. 29, shows the Yanqing Olympic Zone on Xiaohaituo Mountain, nicknamed “the rock” and located around 46 miles (74 kilometers) northwest of Beijing. The area is being used to stage sliding sports (bobsled, skeleton and luge) and Alpine skiing, all of which require long tracks of snow or ice, which require thousands of cubic feet of snow. However, the region receives an average of only 1.3 inches (3.3 centimeters) of snow in February, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory


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