NASA astronauts have even been prohibited from using Twitter and other social media from the International Space Station to highlight their latest photographs of Earth and their mission.
But satellites and the computers that automatically process their images have continued to operate with minimal human supervision or interruption.
NASA’s Terra satellite captured the image to the right of emerging fall colors across the western Great Lakes on October 2, the second day of the shutdown.
Cloudy skies since that date have prevented such a clear view of the region.
When the spacecraft passed overhead at 11:25 a.m. Central Daylight Time, hues of burnt orange and amber were spreading across Michigan’s upper peninsula.
Frosty mornings in mid-September set the stage for the spectacular colors that will blanket the landscape for a part of October.
But one bright orange color visible in north-central parts of the peninsula is not the result of changes in vegetation.
The tell tale bright rust color of Michigan’s Lake Gribben is created by lingering iron ore particles left from the open-pit mining operations at the Empire Iron Mine, near Marquette.
Image: NASA's MODIS Rapid Response System