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Satellites, Shuttles, and Space Stations

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Our Blue Marble
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Our Blue Marble

Credit: DonkeyHotey
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/47422005@N04/5679642883
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

It’s something you’ve probably seen a lot. It might even be the background on your smart phone. If you were born over a few decades ago, you would never have seen it: an image of Earth from space. This one is called Blue Marble 2012.

Why It Matters

  • Beautiful photographs of Earth are compiled from tremendous amount of data. The data comes from a variety of instruments on various satellites.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/17jul_discoveringearth/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Earth appearing above the Moon's horizon [Figure2]


  • The Blue Marble, taken from Apollo 17 in 1972, helped people to look at Earth as one unit.
  • Voyager 1 snapped Earth from about 3.7 billion miles (6 billion km) away in 1990. This image is called Pale Blue Dot, which is a perfect description.

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about Earth images. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Why did the 1972 image called The Blue Marble have an effect on the environmental movement?
  2. Why is imaging Earth from space like “taking vital signs of the planet?”
  3. Why did Blue Marble 2012 need to be photoshopped?
  4. With all the computing ability NASA researchers have, why do they make visual images of Earth from space?


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