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From Russia With Love: A Singularly Stunning Image of Earth

Full-disk image of Earth from Russia's Elektro-L satellite. (NTs OMZ)

Unlike most satellite images of Earth, this one was not assembled from multiple swath scans or digitally projected onto a globe model — it’s the full disk of our planet in captured as a single, enormous 121 megapixel image, acquired by Russia’s Elektro-L weather-forecasting satellite.

Like NASA’s GOES satellites, Elektro-L is parked in a geostationary orbit approximately 36,000 km (22,300 miles) above our planet. Unlike NASA’s satellites, however, Elektro-L captures images in near-infrared as well as visible wavelengths, providing detail about not only cloud movement but also vegetation variations. Its wide-angle Multichannel Scanning Unit (MSU) takes images every 15-30 minutes, showing the same viewpoint of Earth across progressive times of the day.

At a resolution of 0.62 miles per pixel, full-size Elektro-L images are some of the most detailed images of Earth acquired by a weather satellite.

Download the full-size image here (100+ megabytes).

Elektro-L diagram. © 2009 Anatoly Zak

Launched aboard a Zenit rocket on January 20, 2011, Elektro-L was the first major spacecraft to be developed in post-Soviet Russia. Parked over Earth at 76 degrees east longitude, Elektro-L provides local and global weather forecasting and analysis of ocean conditions, as well as “space weather” monitoring — measurements of solar radiation and how it interacts with Earth’s magnetic field. Its initial lifespan is projected to be ten years.

A second Elektro-L satellite is anticipated to launch in 2013.

Image credit: Russian Federal Space Agency / Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring (NTS OMZ). See more images and video from Elektro-L on James Drake’s Planet Earth here. (Tip of the geostationary hat to Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo.)

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • EarthlingX May 11, 2012, 4:55 PM

    Here’s a time-lapse video, by James Drake :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6twFHqJ03_k

  • naureenamjad May 11, 2012, 5:05 PM

    Wow!!

  • Evan Ostroski May 11, 2012, 6:52 PM

    Link broken… :P

    • Jason Major May 11, 2012, 8:59 PM

      Uh oh, looks like all this publicity has Hulk-smashed the Planet Earth servers. :/

  • LoftyAmbitions May 11, 2012, 8:58 PM

    Amazing. A fantastic camera.

  • Erwin Maulana R May 11, 2012, 9:18 PM

    I’m wondering about something.. where did we know where’s north pole, where’s south pole at the beginning.. lucky guess, the eldery say that, or what?
    I mean.. Earth is in the space.. space has no direction.. how did we know north and south?

    • Olaf2 May 11, 2012, 9:49 PM

      What has a direction ins space to do with the North pole naming? They took a spot and called it North. That’s it. They probably used the star that did not move as reference.

      • Jonathan Archer May 12, 2012, 9:37 PM

        Hello Olaf2, it’s me.. that’s my twitter account. Thanks for u’r explanation. relation between direction in space and polar naming.. I mean, if we want to tell someone: “look at the west sky, north sky, etc”, the direction: north, east, west, south come from compass, and compass use south and north pole as their guidance. North and south pole.. are we sure that’s the north is “really” the “up” position, the south is “really” the “down” position

        • Olaf2 May 13, 2012, 12:46 AM

          It is complete irrelevant what is up or down. It is just a convention that we use North as up in the chart’s. Also up is meaningless because Earth’s pole is not up relative the rotation around the solar system. And The rotation of the solar system is nu up relative to the disk of the Milky way.

          I knew one guy that got confused between up and down. If astronauts go up on Earth to the Moon how can they get down on the moon? :-)

          Up and down is just a convention to make life easier. (I think that in Australia they also put North up and not Down on their charts?)

  • Tim Queeney May 11, 2012, 10:08 PM

    Look at the incredible size of the Indian Ocean. From the southern tip of India to Antarctica (which isn’t even visible!) is an amazingly long way. This view shows how isolated Antarctica is from the bulk of Earth’s landmass.

    • David Krauss May 13, 2012, 1:47 AM

      Antarctica is very close to South America, not shown. Take a look at a world map, and you’ll see that this image doesn’t show an entire hemisphere.

  • Peter Croft May 12, 2012, 3:00 AM

    Best thing about it? The USA is nowhere to be seen. For once, we see the rest of the Earth, including my home town, Perth Western Australia.

    • ritwiksundar May 12, 2012, 4:56 PM

      yess that’s causes this unfamiliarity

  • rama May 12, 2012, 8:33 AM

    Amazing picture!! But why is the Indian sub-continent in dark brown shade while the Arabian peninsula (mostly desert) is green?
    Reg. Erwin Maulana’s query, well, if you look at a model of a globe this point you made gets clarified. The earth spins around itself on an imaginary line passing through the North Pole and the South Pole and inclined at an angle of 23.5 deg. to the vertical. I suppose that is the answer.

    • Jonathan Archer May 12, 2012, 9:41 PM

      Hello rama, it’s me.. that’s my twitter account. Thanks for u’r explanation. North and south pole.. are we sure that’s the north is “really” the “up” position, the south is “really” the “down” position.. how did we know that.. I mean, Eath is sphere model.. how if.. we’ve got it wrong, the pole inverted.. actually, the south is north, the north is south.. I’m still curious.. curiosity can kill.

      • Jason Major May 12, 2012, 10:19 PM

        Poles invert, over long periods of time. Nothing gets killed as a direct result. As far as what things are called, they’re just names. East is one direction, and west is the other. Earth rotates in a definite direction (just as your left is not your right) and so it got a name.

  • dwdeclare May 12, 2012, 2:23 PM

    what’s all that orange crap?

    • IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE May 12, 2012, 3:36 PM

      The “orange crap” that you referred to is vegetation – which is how it appears in infrared images.

  • meluhan May 13, 2012, 5:51 AM

    Yay India is at the center!

    • Gordon Tatro May 14, 2012, 5:04 PM

      There is no ‘center’ on the skin of a (an expanding) balloon

  • Peter O'Connor May 14, 2012, 2:06 AM

    this is mesmerizing, but i cant help but notice that all of the green areas (in real life) appear to be orange in this photo. i wonder what technical reasoning is behind this change.

  • Jack Ludwing May 15, 2012, 1:48 PM

    Looks pretty good for being only 6,000 years old!

    Best comments about the Earth http://bit.ly/JFJVqL

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