Angel Falls and Canaima National Park, Venezuela – to find out if the falls are visible and if you can see how fast the water flows
George wrote “It would be interesting to see how big the national park is, and whether we can see Angel Falls from space. I would like to find out how fast the water runs down the river and over the waterfall.”
Angel Falls, or Kerepakupai Vená, is the highest waterfall in the world – nearly 1km in total – but it is quite narrow at the top which would make it difficult to see from space. However, the rapids that form the bottom section are about 150m wide, and a lot of the water turns to mist on the way down, so this is an interesting question. We looked at lots of astronaut photographs and satellite images of the area, and nearly all of them had clouds that made it difficult to identify features on the ground: not very surprising since the falls are so deep in the rainforest that even today they are very difficult to get to. The image that we found for George was produced using data collected by Japan’s Advanced Land Observation Satellite (ALOS or Daichi) in 2009. It clearly shows the almost heart-shaped plateau from which the water flows, and the falls themselves are just about visible.
When George has studied a bit more science, he will be able to calculate how fast the water is falling by the time it reaches the bottom, but we couldn’t find a value online for the speed at which it reaches the edge. Perhaps George could lead an expedition to measure this one day?