The photograph: NASA's "Blue Marble" series has delighted space lovers with photos of the Earth from above since the first image was taken aboard Apollo 17 in 1972. Since then, the U.S. space agency has regularly added to its collection with new iconic images of our cloud-wrapped planet. On Wednesday NASA unveiled its latest photo, "Blue Marble 2012," calling it the "most amazing high-definition image of Earth ever taken." (Have a look at right and below — or click here for an ultra high-res version.) Captured by the $1.5 billion Suomi NPP orbital satellite, the stunningly detailed image is actually a composite stitched together from photos collected as the satellite flew around the planet four times on January 4. The many photos were then digitized into a single image, with the goal of reflecting Earth in its true colors.
The reaction: Our planet looks "impossibly beautiful," says Robert T. Gonzalez at io9. But the photograph, "gorgeous as it is, is actually too beautiful to be real" — after all, it's a fake, "technically speaking." Regardless, this is a great reminder of why an earlier "Blue Marble" image serves as the default wallpaper for Apple's iPhones, says Mark Memmott at NPR. When the first "Blue Marble" photograph was released, "we all suddenly saw the world in a much different way." The newest version is equally stunning. Take a look:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- Why I choose not to be rich
- 29 adorable slang terms for sex (from the last 600 years)
- What if The Purge was real?
- Here's the last time Russia shot down a passenger plane
Subscribe to the Week