Electro-L’s Fully Lit View of Planet Earth at the Autumnal Equinox

by Nancy Atkinson on September 24, 2013

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The entire disk of the Earth lit during the equinox on September 22, 2013. Credit: Roscosmos / NTSOMZ / SRC "Planeta" / zelenyikot.livejournal.com

The entire disk of the Earth lit during the equinox on September 22, 2013. Credit: Roscosmos / NTSOMZ / SRC “Planeta” / zelenyikot.livejournal.com

Here’s a fantastic view of our home planet taken by the Russian weather satellite Electro-L. And while Elektro-L can take gigantic photographs of the entire planet every 30 minutes, it only can get a fully-lit view like this just twice a year — at the spring and autumn equinoxes. This image was taken during the autumnal equinox on September 22, 2013.

Below is an animated gif of the view, going from day to night.

Animation of the Electro-L satellite's view of Earth on September 22, 2013. Credit: Roscosmos / NTSOMZ / SRC "Planeta" / zelenyikot.livejournal.com

Animation of the Electro-L satellite’s view of Earth on September 22, 2013. Credit: Roscosmos / NTSOMZ / SRC “Planeta” / zelenyikot.livejournal.com

Elektro-L orbits Earth in a geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator, and with the Sun exactly behind the satellite on the equinox — the day the north and south poles get the same amount of light — the entire disk is fully lit.

You can see the typhoon Usagi raging over Southeast Asia, clouds and rain over Russia and swirling clouds in the ocean near Antarctica.

Electro-L was launched in 2011 and is Russia’s first geostationary weather satellite. It’s a data hog – sending back 2.56 to 16.36 megabits per second, with resolution of 1 kilometer per pixel. You can see the big 5000 x 5000 pixel version at the Electro-L website.

Thanks to Vitaliy Egorov for sharing this image with UT. He has posted the images at his zelenyikot/livejournal website.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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