Images like this high-resolution beauty from NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite will help us monitor our changing Earth.
Africa figures prominently in this image. You can zip from the central Sahara, across the Red Sea and to the foothills of the Himalayas in the image, exploring storm systems along the way. This ‘Blue Marble’ image of Earth is a composite of many swaths taken by the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite instrument (VIIRS) instrument aboard Suomi NPP. The satellite was renamed Suomi NPP January 24, 2012 in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi of the Univesity of Wisconsin. The swaths are visible as the regularly spaced vertical areas of gray across the image.
These are the brighter eastward edges of the images. The lightening is caused by sunglint from the ocean. The same sun reflection is seen by astronauts from aboard the ISS. Edge brightening, common in satellite images of Earth, has been removed.
Download this image at NASA Goddard’s Flickr site. The original is a hefty 11000×11000 pixels. Thankfully, there are smaller sizes available. Our beautiful planet is worth the look.