Holiday calendar: Where the rain in Spain goes

A SPOT satellite image provides a multispectral view of Spain's Ebro Delta. The picture is featured in Yann Arthus-Bertrand's latest book, "Earth from Space." CNES / Astrium / SPOT / Abrams
"Earth From Space" features satellite imagery with an environmental twist. Abrams / Goodplanet Foundation

Spain's Ebro River spans more than 550 miles (990 kilometers) and flows into the Mediterranean Sea through a vast delta. Rice plantations flourish in the delta — thanks in part to ingenious networks of irrigation canals, which create a beautiful mosaic in this false-color picture from the European SPOT satellite constellation.

SPOT's view of the Ebro Delta is one of the featured pictures in "Earth From Space," a coffee-table book featuring more than 150 satellite views of our planet. Environmentalist photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand tells the stories behind the pictures with the aid of scientists, activists and other experts. You'll be seeing more pictures from "Earth From Space" in future installments of our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, a photographic series that runs through Christmas. For still more holiday goodies, check out The Atlantic's Hubble Advent CalendarZooniverse's Advent calendar and the Galileo's Pendulum Science Advent Calendar.

Previously on the Space Advent Calendar:

Alan Boyle is's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with's stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.