Astronauts in space get to see these views every day. Now, so can you.

(NASA)

Astronauts (and satellites) get a view of Earth like no other. Unlike us commoners on the ground, they get to see our planet in its entirety from hundreds of thousands of miles away. NASA gave us a taste of this view back in July, releasing a majestic image of the water, land, and clouds that make up our big, blue marble.

The agency is now sharing one of its unique vantage points on a website that features new, high-resolution photos of Earth taken over the course of each day by the agency’s four-megapixel Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), which is about a million miles away. The images are created by “combining three separate single-color images to create a photographic-quality image equivalent to a 12-megapixel camera,” NASA wrote in a statement.

Every day, NASA will post a dozen-plus color images of Earth taken 12 to 36 hours earlier, and if users hit “play” on the site, they can watch the planet rotate. If you want to see what Earth looked like in the recent past, there’s also an archive of images going as far back as June 25.

(NASA)

It’s all part of NASA’s two-year Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission, launched in February with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) to monitor the solar wind and forecast space weather. That’s an hugely important task, as the satellite provides us with timely warnings of solar storms that “have the potential to disrupt major public infrastructure systems such as power grids, telecommunications, aviation, and GPS,” according to NASA.

As delighted as we are about NASA’s latest news is former Vice President Al Gore, who first proposed the idea for DSCOVR back in 1998, according to NPR:

Gore was so smitten with the view of Earth from space that he put an enormous print of a picture taken by Apollo 17 on the wall of his West Wing office. 'Wouldn't it be nice,' Gore asked in 1998, 'to have that image continuous, live, 24 hours a day?'"

Seventeen years later, Gore—and the rest of the world—finally gets to see this idea come to life.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  3. A photo of a design maquette for the Obama Presidential Center planned for Jackson Park and designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
    Design

    Why the Case Against the Obama Presidential Center Is So Important

    A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Chicago preservationists can proceed, dealing a blow to Barack Obama's plans to build his library in Jackson Park.

  4. a map of the Mayan Train route in Mexico
    Environment

    Mexico’s ‘Mayan Train’ Is Bound for Controversy

    President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s signature rail project would link cities and tourist sites in the Yucatan with rural areas and rainforests.

  5. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.