Our precious thin atmosphere

March 1, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Click on this link to see a beautiful photo of the Earth by the Goddard Space Flight Center. What is stunning to me is the thin-ness of the Earth’s precious atmosphere.  Click on the image for  a much-enlarged version.


How was this photo taken?

This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public. This record includes preview images and links to full resolution versions up to 21,600 pixels across.

Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device-NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. Flying over 700 km above the Earth onboard the Terra satellite, MODIS provides an integrated tool for observing a variety of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric features of the Earth. The land and coastal ocean portions of these images are based on surface observations collected from June through September 2001 and combined, or composited, every eight days to compensate for clouds that might block the sensor’s view of the surface on any single day. Two different types of ocean data were used in these images: shallow water true color data, and global ocean color (or chlorophyll) data.


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Category: Astronomy, Environment

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Great photo! And for those who like to toy with scale models, I have a spreadsheet for download in which you can redefine the diameters of the Sun and Earth and see the scale model of the Solar system or aspects of the Earth recalculated.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Planeten: Did you use your spreadsheet to actually build a model of the solar system? If so, what did you pick as the size of your sun?

  2. Well, I didn't actually build a model, but I simply got the largest rice paper lamp I could get, with a diameter of 90cm. I wanted to buy beads and polystyrene spheres for the planets, so I started the spreadsheet from there. The lamp is collapsable and the planets are just a small bag full. Mobility was what I need when I visit schools etc..

    There are a few models of the Solar System in Holland, as "planet paths" that you can walk along and get a feel of the proportions of size and distance. The spreadsheet can be used to calculate such a path.

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