acquired April 9, 2024

Antelope Valley Abloom



Near the western tip of the Mojave Desert and a few miles west of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, fields of wildflowers painted the landscape yellow in spring 2024. On April 9, the OLI (Operational Land Imager) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this image of fields of yellow wildflowers blanketing Antelope Valley amid solar and wind farms.

The day after the image was acquired, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve reported that wildflowers were “popping,” but the region’s famous poppies were not. Rangers at the reserve said they also saw very few small poppy plants maturing, suggesting an impressive poppy bloom is unlikely in the coming weeks.

However, “there are sweeping fields of Goldfields interspersed with Owl’s Clover and Creamcups,” the reserve said. California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica), a member of the sunflower family, thrive in clay soils and produce small daisy-like flowers. With plenty of moisture, large populations can bloom at once and yield the carpets of yellow that give the plant its name.

The burst of yellow came after this region received heavy rains in February and March. Those rains may have been too much for California Poppies, the Los Angeles Times reported. According to that report, the iconic—and finicky—orange flowers often do better after several years of drought, and they may be facing increased competition from grasses that benefited from all the rain.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Wanmei Liang, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Adam Voiland.