Orbital View: A Palette of Uranium Waste

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

One commenter on this satellite view of Rawlins, Wyoming, sees a “paint palette,” while another goes with “eyeshadow compact.” A more grounded guess:

This is the tailings pond at the Sweetwater uranium mine/mill complex in Wyoming’s Red Desert. The different colors are due to different bacteria working to break down dissolved solids from the remnants of uranium mining.

(See all Orbital Views here)