NASA was 50 years old last July, and the Earth Observatory has been celebrating by reviewing some of the classic images they’ve captured over the years. The image of the Earth at left was captured by Apollo 8 astronauts on December 22nd 1968 – one of the first “blue marble” pictures. Forty years on, it’s sobering to realise that only 24 people have seen the planet from this perspective – from the moon. But the picture that really caught my attention this week was part of a feature where NASA asked earth scientists what “unique insights” spaceflight had given us about the planet.
On page three, you’ll find this stunning image of “ship tracks” – the maritime equivalent of the contrails left by high flying aircraft – over the Bay of Biscay. If you ever doubted man’s influence on the atmosphere, here’s a dramatic confirmation of the large scale impacts brought about by our modern way of life. There are also satellite maps of ENSO sea level changes, Arctic sea ice decline, La NiÃ±a-related sea level changes, and many more pretty pictures. Educational eye candy.