As the Earth Turns

Live views of our planet, from satellites near and far.

Europe’s newest weather satellite, MSG-4, took this, its first image of Earth, yesterday. (Eumetsat)
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Every other day, it seems, we’re treated to some fantastic new view of our planet from space.

The latest, and maybe the best, is this spectacular scene of the moon crossing the disk of Earth, as seen from NASA’s new Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, which is stationed a million miles away in the direction of the sun—four times farther than the moon:

dscovrepicmoontransitfull.gif

By next month, after DSCOVR is fully operational, NASA plans to post Earth images from the satellite 12 to 36 hours after they’re taken.  But you don’t have to wait. Already you can see many satellite views of our planet in real-time, or very close to it. Here’s another beauty—24 hours’ worth of imagery taken by Japan’s new Himawari-8 satellite just today:

Video: Japanese Meteorological Agency

The space agencies that operate these Earth-viewing satellites are getting better all the time at serving up the imagery quickly, in formats that even non-scientists can appreciate.

At this site, for example, you can mix and match different filters to assemble your own GOES satellite animated view of the atmosphere. Pick the entire disk, or just the region you’re interested in. This false-color image taken just a few hours ago (as I write this), shows warmer air as red and cooler air as blue:

The spacecraft belong to many different nations, and have perspectives both global and parochial— sometimes both. Here’s a Russian RESURS-P satellite view of the National Museum of the  U.S. Air Force in Ohio, taken last week:

You might see how the atmosphere over India looked an hour ago, or make a map of current global winds at different altitudes (click on “Earth” in the lower left corner), or watch smoke billowing into the atmosphere from wildfires in Greece:

greece fires.gif
(Eumetsat)

And if it’s up-to-the-minute Earth views you’ve gotta have, tune in to NASA’s live HD feed from the International Space Station. It’s not quite the astronaut’s view, but it’s a fair substitute.


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