From the Earth and Moon (and Russia) With Love

Article written: 30 Mar , 2011
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015


This stunning picture of the Moon and Earth was taken by Russia’s new Elektro-L spacecraft, a weather-forecasting satellite that launched in January 2011. This is the first major spacecraft developed in post-Soviet Russia, and it is designed to give Russian meteorologists the ability to watch the entire disk of the planet, thanks to the satellite’s position in the geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator. The clarity of the images is fantastic, as you can see in another image of just the Earth, below. The Elektro-L is designed to last at least a decade, and will enable local and global weather forecasting, analysis of oceanic conditions, as well as space weather monitoring, such as measurements of solar radiation, properties of Earth’s ionosphere and magnetic field.

On Feb. 26, 2011, at 14:30 Moscow Time, the Elektro-L satellite produced its first breathtaking image of the home planet. Credit: NPO Lavochkin

Learn more about the Elektro-L mission at their website.

h/t: SDO Facebook page.

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10 Responses

  1. Peter says

    How does a geosynchronous satellite see the whole earth? Isn’t that the point of GS, to view one spot always? “the ability to watch the entire disk of the planet…” And I never knew we lived on a disk! Live and learn, I tell ya!

  2. Jlazor says

    There is a particularly wonderful animation created from the images taken by this spacecraft. It shows the view for an entire day, as the satellite swings around with the earth, from full disk to crescent and back again, with clouds swirling over the surface.

    The original can be found here; (8 mb, 2 fps)

    My modified version here; (5 mb, 16 fps)

    This was created in February. The spacecraft must have frames for every day up to now, which would make for an awesome movie! Trouble is I can’t find them. The source; NPO Lavochkin, doesn’t have anything. Does anyone know where such data could be found? Or maybe we will just have to wait for such a movie to be released…

  3. Fulbert says

    This is awesome. And I thought Russia only launched GLONASS satellites and carved ice statues about what a powerful space power it used to be.

  4. HeadAroundU says

    It looks like a painting. Not very realistic.

  5. HolyAvengerOne says

    There’s something odd about the first picture. Probably something I don’t understand…

    The sun seems to be lighting up the Earth from the “left” of the photograph (can’t really light it up from behind, eh?), however looking at the moon, it seems the light is coming from the right side of the pic?!

    • Member
      IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE says

      To give you some idea of what you’re seeing, try this Lunar Phase Simulator: (1) Set the Moon Phase control to “Waxing Gibbous”; (2) at the Animation and Time Controls, click “start animation” and then wait until the Moon Phase is about 90% illuminated; (3) then, at the Animation and Time Controls, click “pause animation” when the ‘little’ man on the Earth is at the 11 o’clock position.

      Now imagine that the Electro-L satellite is directly above that man’s head; that’s the approximate position of the satellite when it took the first picture above.

      • HolyAvengerOne says

        Ooh ok, I think I see it now! Thanks =)

        Really odd angle, I kept seeing it as if light was coming from both directions!

  6. Spacemad says

    Is that image of the Earth & Moon a real image or is it a mock up? I didn’t know it was possible to get an image like that from GSO! The Moon looks too close & too small, it makes Earth look the size of Jupiter!

    The images are fantastic nonetheless! Well done to the Russians for building & sending up such a fantastic camera! 🙂

    • Manu says

      It looks OK.
      The Moon is not close, just looks so because it was almost opposite from the satellite at that moment.
      The Earth-Moon distance is roughly 10x the Earth-GSO distance, so the Moon would appear more than 40x smaller than Earth in this perspective, which seems correct.

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