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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Just for fun: views of the Earth

The Terra space satellite has been snapping pictures of the Earth with a variety of instruments for the past decade. Here's a sample of what it's seen:

Measuring from left to right:
  1. photosynthesis (2009)--dark green areas on land and light green in the oceans are the most productive
  2. carbon monoxide (2009)--byproduct of burning plants or fossil fuels, the highest concentrations are dark orange
  3. aerosols (2007)--pollution or dust, the highest concentrations are purple
  4. elevation
  5. net radiation (2009)--difference between solar energy hitting the Earth and energy leaving the Earth. Orange is surplus (net gain in energy), green is deficit. Together, this gives a global temperature reading for the Earth.

Hat tip:
Bad Astronomy

NASA images by Marit Jentoft-Nilsen (image) and Robert Simmon (globes). Based on data from the MODIS, MOPITT, MISR, ASTER, and CERES science teams.