Few things in life put everything in perspective better than a stunning image of Earth from space. This timelapse video of the Earth (shown above) showcases the highest resolution single-shot imagery ever taken of our spinning blue planet, thanks to the Russian Center for Earth Operative Monitoring.
The video and images were snapped by the Russian weather satellite Elektro-L during its orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator. The images are in 121 megapixels; That's 0.62 miles per pixel. In the video shown above here, the images are in true color, but if you really want to see the vegetation pop out, watch it in the infrared-- the vegetation will instead appear orange. Elektro-L uses three bands in reflected light-red and two near infrared bands, which is part of what distinguishes it from similar satellites controlled by NASA or other international space agencies.
"It's a geostationary weather satellite orbiting above the equator at ~54˚ East," said Robert Simmon, a NASA scientist, during an interview with Gizmodo. "The US has two similar operational geostationary satellites over the east and west coasts, EUMETSAT has one over Europe and one over the Indian Ocean, Japan has one over the far western Pacific."
Also unlike most NASA photos of the Earth from space, these images were snapped in a single shot. By contrast, NASA's photos are usually composites of several photographs.
Not since The Blue Marble-- the famous photograph snapped by Apollo 17 astronauts on their way to the Moon in 1972-- has there been such a spectacular and moving single-shot view of the Earth.
The Blue Marble became one of the most widely distributed photographs of all time. Although we may have become more accustomed to this view of our planet from space since then, these new Elektro-L images prove that such a view can still be immaculately spellbinding and humbling.
A remarkably precise, zoomable version of the infrared image can be toyed with at the Huffington Post here.