Timelapse: Looking Down on Planet Earth from 40,000 Kilometers

What does the world look like from an altitude of 40,000 kilometers? The Geostationary weather satellite Elektro-L is positioned high above the Indian Ocean, moving at a speed that makes it stationary relative to the earth. Every 30 minutes the satellite makes a 121 megapixel image (11136 x 11136 pixels) using visible and infrared light:

The images used in this timelapse have been edited by James Tyrwhitt-Drake to adjust the levels and change the infrared channel from orange to green to correctly represent the color of the vegetation. (Via PetaPixel)

Additional edits included aligning the images to ensure that there are no misalignments between the frames as well as reduction of the file size by 50 percent. When the camera was facing toward the sun, some amount of artifacts occurred, that was corrected to an extent, too. The images were further interpolated by a factor of 20 to ensure the animation was smooth.


A screenshot from the Earth Time-lapse

If you are wondering why the heck the city lights aren’t visible, it’s because the camera sensor is not designed to be that sensitive. If it were, the earth would have been overexposed when the sunlight reflected off the surface. A circular mask ensured that the camera did not pick up any bit of direct sunlight, as it would damage the sensors within.

It’s a tiny blue and green blob, the world we live in. From an even higher altitude—as some of the long range missions have seen it—the earth does look like a lonely spec in a fathomless ocean of blackness. It’s unimaginable that instead of cherishing this miracle of nature, we tend to fight for every possible reason.

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