2008 marked the first time in history that more of Earth’s population lived in cities rather than in the countryside, and by 2050 nearly 70% of the world’s population will reside in large cities. A new series of satellite photographs captured decades apart by NASA’s Landsat department and the U.S. Geological Survey offers a striking look at how human cities have spread across the face of the Earth in just a few short years. The image above shows Las Vegas in 1984 and in 2011. Read more…
NASA has released a gigantic catalog of the night sky that contains more than 563 million stars, galaxies, asteroids, planets, and objects. The images were captured by the infrared cameras of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, which has been collecting data for the past two years. After capturing more than 2.7 million images of the sky, NASA created an epic panorama showing the entire sky by stitching together 18,000 of those images. You can view the panorama in a zoomable browser here or download the 180MP/73.5MB photograph here.
If you’ve always wanted to be an astronaut photographer shooting images of Earth from a window of the International Space Station, Stratocam is an app for you. Created by Paul Rademacher, it allows you to snap your own photographs inside Google Maps’ satellite view of our planet. You can also view and rate other people’s photos, and browse the highest rated images from around the world. Read more…
Want to see how Las Vegas has grown from 1972 through 2010? NASA created this unique time-lapse video using photographs captured by Landsat satellites. From this perspective, it almost looks like humans are a mold spreading across the face of a fruit.
The Suomi NPP satellite is in a polar orbit around Earth at an altitude of 512 miles (about 824 kilometers), but the perspective of the new Eastern hemisphere ‘Blue Marble’ is from 7,918 miles (about 12,743 kilometers). NASA scientist Norman Kuring managed to ‘step back’ from Earth to get the big picture by combining data from six different orbits of the Suomi NPP satellite. Or putting it a different way, the satellite flew above this area of Earth six times over an eight hour time period. Norman took those six sets of data and combined them into one image.
So rather than being a composite of multiple images captured from the same perspective, they do in fact map images captured by the satellite onto a 3D sphere. Read more…
NASA has released another Blue Marble photograph of Earth. It calls this one the “most amazing, highest resolution image of Earth ever”. The image is a composite created from a number of photos of Earth’s surface captured on January 4, 2012, and weighs in at a massive 64-megapixels (8000×8000). You can download the full-res version here. Be warned though — it might crash your browser.
Here’s a satellite photograph showing what the Costa Concordia disaster looks like from space. On January 13th the gigantic Italian cruise ship ran aground and partially sank, killing at least 13 people.
Ever wonder how the US government managed to capture spy photos with satellites during the Cold War without the help of digital cameras, computers, or wireless transmission? The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the various techniques that were used:
From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles (100 kilometers) of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.
As Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast, NASA has published a satellite photograph of Earth to its Flickr stream in which the storm is clearly visible. The storm has a diameter of 510 miles — roughly 1/3 the length of the East Coast — so it could probably be seen very clearly from someone standing on the moon. President Obama is warning Americans that the hurricane could be of “historic proportions”.