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'Blue Marble 2012': NASA's 'Most Amazing' High Def Image Of Earth So Far

The "Blue Marble" image of Earth snapped by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972 is one of the most famous photos ever taken. When it appeared, we all suddenly saw the world in a much different way.

In the years since, NASA has added other "Blue Marble" photos to its collection, and has used technology to enhance and sharpen the images.

Today the space agency unveiled what it's calling the "most amazing high definition image of Earth — Blue Marble 2012." This one was taken "from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite — Suomi NPP," NASA says, and is a "composite image [that] uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012."

So how does this new composite image compare to some of the others? Check them out.

"Blue Marble 2012," released today:

"Blue Marble 2000," which combined data from multiple satellites and applied color schemes to give "an approximation of what was really occurring:"

"Blue Marble 1972," the "original:"

By the way, the image that NASA identifies as "Blue Marble 1972" shows Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Malagasy Republic. The Blue Marble image that is among the wallpaper choices on iPhones — and so has become quite well known in recent years — is a different shot, centered on North America. As iPhoneJ.D. has explained, the iPhone choice is one of the later images NASA produced, in 2002.

(H/T to NPR social media desk intern Xavier Lacombe and to Gizmodo.)

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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From Medical Maggots To Stench Soup, 'Grunt' Explores The Science Of Warfare

When it comes to curiosity, science writer Mary Roach describes herself as someone who is "very out there." Her new book, Grunt, looks at some scientific developments that help keep soldiers safe.
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Venezuela Is Running Out Of Beer Amid Severe Economic Crisis

The country's largest beer producer, Empresas Polar, halted operations because the government restricted access to imported barley. But the president has pinned the entire food crisis on Polar.
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Donald Trump Attacks Federal Judge Involved In Trump University Case

Donald Trump continues to face lawsuits over his for-profit education company, Trump University. Trump accused federal judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias in one case, and said the judge, who is from Indiana, "happens to be, we believe, Mexican." NPR's Ari Shapiro talks to Washington Post political reporter Tom Hamburger about the case.
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In Omaha, A Library With No Books Brings Technology To All

The privately funded, $7 million Do Space provides free access to computers, high-end software, 3-D printers, and laser cutters. It's a learning and play space, as well as an office for entrepreneurs.

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