Live, from Landsat: the Earth!

Live, from Landsat: the Earth!

Live, from Landsat: the Earth!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 30 2006 9:31 PM

Live, from Landsat: the Earth!

OK, the Mars pictures are very very cool. But did you know that we have satellites orbiting a closer planet?

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Yeah, duh. Earth!

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The Landsat satellites have been around a long time (34 years) taking important data about our home planet.

And now you can watch! The USGS has created the EarthNow! Landsat Image viewer, which displays a scrolling continuous image of the Earth as seen from Landsat 5 and 7. I've tuned in a few times and have yet to see a live image, but it does say when the next pass of the satellite will be.

There is something vaguely hypnotic with watching the Earth roll by underneath you. At 250 meters per pixel you won't see too many man-made features (at least not individual ones) but just the terrain itself is relaxing. As I write this, coincidentally, the image passed right over my house! I couldn't even make out the city of Santa Rosa, which is a decent sized place. I could see Point Reyes and the Farallon islands though. Pretty cool.

All in all, the Mars images are cooler. The higher resolution makes them prettier, and, after all, they're from another planet! But Earth still ranks high on the list of places I like to live and look at.