25 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

1. Blue Marble, 2012

A NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first view of the entire sunlit side of Earth from one million miles away.

The color images of Earth from NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) are generated by combining three separate images to create a photographic-quality image. The camera takes a series of 10 images using different narrowband filters — from ultraviolet to near infrared — to produce a variety of science products. The red, green and blue channel images are used in these Earth images.

2. Aurora Australis

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

The Expedition 32 crew onboard the International Space Station, flying an altitude of approximately 240 miles, recorded a series of images of Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, on July 15, 2012. NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, flight engineer, recorded the series of images from the Tranquility node. The Canadarm2 robot arm is in the foreground.

3. Eastern Seaboard at Night

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

An Expedition 30 crew member aboard the International Space Station took this nighttime photograph of much of the Atlantic coast of the United States. Large metropolitan areas and other easily recognizable sites from the Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. area are visible in the image that spans almost to Rhode Island. Boston is just out of frame at right. Long Island and the New York City area are visible in the lower right quadrant. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are near the center. Parts of two Russian vehicles parked at the orbital outpost are seen in left foreground.

NASA’s Operation IceBridge images Earth’s polar ice in unprecedented detail to better understand processes that connect the polar regions with the global climate system. IceBridge utilizes a highly specialized fleet of research aircraft and the most sophisticated suite of innovative science instruments ever assembled to characterize annual changes in thickness of sea ice, glaciers, and ice sheets.

4. Alaska’s Brooks Range

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA / Michael Studinger

Mountains in Alaska’s Brooks Range seen during the IceBridge survey flight from Thule, Greenland to Fairbanks, Alaska.

5. Rub’ al Khali, Arabia

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

The Rub’ al Khali is one of the largest sand deserts in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. It includes parts of Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. The desert covers an area larger than France. Largely unexplored until recently, the first documented journeys made by Westerners were those of Bertram Thomas in 1931 and St. John Philby in 1932. This image was acquired on Dec. 2, 2005 by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, aboard NASA’s Terra Earth-orbiting satellite.

6. The Water Planet

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

Viewed from space, the most striking feature of our planet is the water. In both liquid and frozen form, it covers 75% of the Earth’s surface. It fills the sky with clouds. Water is practically everywhere on Earth, from inside the planet’s rocky crust to inside the cells of the human body.

7. Storm Cell Over the Southern Appalachian Mountains

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA / Stu Broce

This storm cell photo was taken from NASA’s high-altitude ER-2 aircraft on May 23, 2014, during a study aimed at gaining a better understanding of precipitation over mountainous terrain.

8. An Astronaut’s View from Space

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid)

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman tweeted this photo from the International Space Station on Tuesday morning, Sept. 2, 2014. “My favorite views from #space – just past #sunrise over the ocean,” the Expedition 40 astronaut tweeted.

9. Venice Lagoon

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

A narrow barrier island protects the Lagoon of Venice from storm waves in the northern Adriatic Sea, and breakwaters protect inlets to the lagoon. Red tiles on the roofs of Venice contrast with the grays of the sister city of Mestre, and the cities are joined by a prominent causeway. What appears to be another causeway joining the island to the airport (top right) is actually the combined wakes of many boats and water taxis shuttling between them. Small, bright agricultural fields on well-drained soils (top left) contrast with the darker vegetation of back-bay swamps, where fishing is a popular pastime.

10. Earth at Night

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA’s Earth Observatory/NOAA/DOD

This new global view of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands.

11. Iberian Peninsula at Night

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

One of the Expedition 40 crew members aboard the International Space Station recorded this early evening photo of the entire Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) on July 26, 2014. Part of France can be seen at the top of the image and the Strait of Gibraltar is visible at bottom, with a very small portion of Morocco visible near the lower right corner.

12. Windswept Valleys in Northern Africa

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

Alexander Gerst/ESA/NASA

Expedition 40 Flight Engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency posted this photograph of windswept valleys in Northern Africa, taken from the International Space Station, to social media on July 6, 2014.

13. Exploring the World’s Protected Areas from Space

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/USGS

A new book released this week highlights how the view from space with Earth-orbiting sensors is being used to protect some of the world’s most interesting, changing, and threatened places. From space, Egmont National Park in New Zealand shows the benefits and limitations of protected areas. In this Landsat 8 image acquired on July 3, 2014, the park, with Mt. Taranaki at its center, was established in 1900. This isolated island of protected forest (dark green areas) is surrounded by once-forested pasturelands (light and brown green).

14. Earth’s Vital Signs

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

ASA launched the Earth Observing System’s flagship satellite “Terra,” named for Earth, on December 18, 1999. Terra has been collecting data about Earth’s changing climate. On February 24, 2000, sensors on NASA’s Terra satellite began opening their shutters and making their first observations.

15. Volcanic Smog and Sunglint in the Vanuatu Archipelago

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Rapid Response Team

On Jan. 7, 2014 NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the Vanuatu Archipelago, capturing this true-color image showing a broad plume of “vog” (volcanic smog) and ash.

16. An Astronaut’s View from Station

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

A view of Earth as seen from the Cupola on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station. Visible in the top left foreground is a Russian Soyuz crew capsule. In the lower right corner, a solar array panel can be seen. This photo was taken from the ISS on June 12, 2013.

17. Satellite View of the Americas on Earth Day

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/NOAA/GOES Project

NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured this stunning view of the Americas on Earth Day, April 22, 2014 at 11:45 UTC/7:45 a.m. EDT. The data from GOES-East was made into an image by the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

18. Another World

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

This other worldly landscape is actually Dagze Co, one of many inland lakes in Tibet. In glacial times, the region was considerably wetter, and lakes were correspondingly much larger, as evidenced by the numerous fossil shorelines that circle the lake and attest to the presence of a previously larger, deeper lake. Over millennia changes in climate.

19. NASA’s Terra Satellite Sees Shadows of Solar Eclipse

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

During the morning of March 20, 2015, a total solar eclipse was visible from parts of Europe, and a partial solar eclipse from northern Africa and northern Asia. NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the Arctic Ocean on March 20 at 10:45 UTC (6:45 a.m. EDT) and captured the eclipse’s shadow over the clouds in the Arctic Ocean.

20. Storm Clouds Over the Atlantic Ocean Near Brazil

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

One of the Expedition 36 crew members aboard the International Space Station used a 50mm lens to record this image of a large mass of storm clouds over the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil and the Equator on July 4, 2013. A Russian spacecraft, docked to the orbiting outpost, partially covers a small patch of sunglint on the ocean waters in a break in the clouds.

21. Great Lakes and Central U.S. Viewed From the International Space Station

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/Barry Wilmore

From the International Space Station, Expedition 42 Flight Engineer Barry Wilmore took this photograph of the Great Lakes and central U.S. on Dec. 7, 2014, and posted it to social media.

22. Earth, Moon, Hubble

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

Space Shuttle Discovery’s crew witnessed this bright full moon from orbit during a December 1999 mission that included servicing the Hubble Space Telescope (the top of which is seen on the right). To the left is Earth’s horizon; the full moon on that day, Dec. 22, was brighter than average because it was full at nearly the same time it was at its closest to the Earth at a time when the Earth was relatively close to the sun.

23. A Sky View of Earth From Suomi NPP

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

Ocean Biology Processing Group at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

This composite image of southern Africa and the surrounding oceans was captured by six orbits of the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership spacecraft on April 9, 2015, by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument. Tropical Cyclone Joalane can be seen over the Indian Ocean.

24. Wonders in the Antarctic Sky

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

Michael Studinger

An Operation IceBridge project scientist took this Nov. 24, 2013 photograph of a multi-layered lenticular cloud hovering near Mount Discovery, a volcano about 70 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of McMurdo Station on Antarctica’s Ross Island.

25. Flying Through an Aurora

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA/ESA/Alexander Gerst

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst posted this photograph taken from the International Space Station to social media on Aug. 29, 2014, writing, “words can’t describe how it feels flying through an #aurora. I wouldn’t even know where to begin….”

26. Earthrise

26 Stunning Images of Our Planet by NASA

NASA

Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1968. That evening, the astronauts-Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders-held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft.

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