Maps, Graphs, and Data

Creating Images from Numbers

False Color Image

Scientific data are often represented by assigning ranges of numbers to specific colors. The colors are then used to make an images which allow us to see patterns more easily. Students will make a false color image using a set of numbers.

Mini Lesson


  • Colored pencils or crayons: White, Orange, Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black
  • Piece of 8.5 x 11-inch paper
  • Metric ruler


Step 1) From your color 'pallet', select each color to represent numbers in the indicated ranges: 

Colors for each number range

Step 2) Draw a 100-cell, square grid with 10 cells (pixels) on a side, and each cell 1-centimeter on a side.

Step 3) Using the number grid below, color-in the cells on your grid with the colors you selected from your color pallet in Step 1.

Problem 1 - If the numbers represent temperatures in degrees centigrade, where are the hottest and coldest areas in the false-color image?

Problem 2 - If the numbers represent the speed of a gas in kilometers per hour, where is the gas moving between 6 - 10 km/h? 

Data Table


  1. Space Math - http://spacemath.gsfc.nasa
  2. Landsat Math -