Second 'Blue Marble' NASA sat pic apes Apollo 17's stunner
Earth-snapping Suomi gets its kit out for the labs
After popular demand NASA's Suomi NPP satellite has beamed down another "Blue Marble" vision of the Earth in high definition.
Latest 'Blue Marble' image of Africa and the Middle East. Credit: NASA/NOAA
The agency said that it decided to put out a second image of our planet from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) aboard Suomi because the first - issued last month - was "wildly popular".
And for those bemoaning the fact that the first pic showed the Americas (not that peculiar when you consider it's a NASA satellite and therefore, American), this one reveals Africa and the Middle East, with a wee bit of Asia, in all their glory.
The image is again a composite, this time of six separate orbits on January 23. The picture was then compiled by NASA Goddard scientist Norman Kuring with a perspective of 7,918 miles above the Earth, although the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite is actually at an altitude of 512 miles.
The four hazy vertical lines across the planet are the reflection of the sun off the oceans.
This second "Blue Marble" photo, taken by VIIRS, recreates the first ever "Blue Marble" shot, which was taken by the Apollo 17 astronauts as they flew through space on their journey to the Moon. That picture was taken at a distance of around 28,000 miles.
Look how we've changed: original 'Blue Marble' pic taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972. Credit: NASA
NASA said that, according to Flickr, the first Suomi NPP Blue Marble image has had more than 3.1 million views as of February 1, "making it one of the all-time most viewed images on the site after only one week". ®
I don't think any can compare with the Apollo 8 Earthrise photos. Something that despite all the mission planning, nobody had anticipated.
Prefer the original
Though these composites are gorgeous, they really aren't a patch on that shot from '72.
The banding from the ocean reflections is the main culprit in ruining things for me, makes it look like the earth isn't spherical. Plus it's perfect daylight everywhere - again, boom, not a sphere illuminated by a single lightsource anymore. So techincally impressive, initially attractive, but ultimately full of fail.
When its decomissioning time, they should strap some boosters to Hubble, bob her off a bit into the solar system, and get a nice close up from there - would be a lovely shot. Hmmm, would be nice to do fly-by's of the whole solar system...
They are both lovely composites, and I hope they eventually release one of the PacRim, although to see Te Ika-a-Māui, I guess I'll have to put up with that giant penal colony to my West taking most of the attention, as usual.