NPR : News

Filed Under:

'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

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.