Planet Earth, in high resolution

KD Suarez

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It's a headshot, or almost!

BLUE MARBLE. A smaller version of the 8000 x 8000 px "Blue Marble 2012" image, the highest-resolution image of Earth ever, released by NASA on January 25, 2012. Photo courtesy of NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

MANILA, Philippines – Earth finally has its highest-resolution planetary photo ever.

On Wednesday, January 25, NASA has released the “most amazing high definition image” of Earth ever – an 8000×8000-pixel ‘headshot,’ if you can call it as such.

NASA said the image was a composite of images taken of our planet on January 4, 2012, and shows a large part of North America, the Gulf of Mexico, and the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The images were taken from the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite.

The newest Earth-observing satellite, according to NASA, is the first of a new generation of satellites that will “observe many facets of our changing Earth.”

It was named after Verner E. Suomi, who was a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin and acknowledged ast “the father of satellite meteorology.”

Tech site Gizmodo said the 2012 “Blue Marble” image “bests the 2010 edition” – a mainstay in iPhones‘ default images folder – and the original one, taken during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 (see below).

BLUE MARBLE 1972. This classic photograph of the Earth was taken on December 7, 1972. The original caption is reprinted below:  View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the east coast of Africa is the Republic of Madagascar. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast. Astronaut photograph AS17-148-22727 courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth

You can download the image (all 16 MB of it, or in a smaller size) at the NASA Goddard Photo and Video page on Flickr.

For more dazzling images taken from space, NASA has several repositories available online, such as the Earth Observatory. –

Click on the links below for more.

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