Seeing images of the earth from space does something to us humans. Often, we can get caught up in our own little worlds, going about our business like we are the center of everything when really, we are just small motes on a slightly larger mote hurdling through space. If there’s anything that photos of the earth can do for us, it reminds us of how beautiful our planet is while also humbling us! In case you need some reminding, here are a few amazing pictures of the earth that were recently taken from space. Prepare to have your mind blown.
5 Amazing (and Recent) Photos of Earth From Space
#1: Volcanic Plumes in Chile
While this photo may look like a fungus spreading across the earth, it’s actually an active volcano in chile, as seen from the top down. This image was taken from the International Space Station on January 17th, 2023, and shows the gasses and steam from the volcano (known as Strombolian eruptions) as they spread across the region.
#2: Snowy Celestial Mountains
In what would make one of the coolest screensavers ever, we see the Tien Shan range in Central Asia. This incredible photo was taken on February 9th, 2022, and depicts one of the largest mountain ranges in the entire world. The glaciers that can be seen surrounding the mountains melt, creating the water supply that supports millions of farmers by creating large river systems. No need to squeeze water from a rock when the ice does just fine!
#3: Orion’s Optical Navigation Camera Captures Earth
Black and white photos never go out of style, especially when it comes to space photos. This picture was taken on November 17th, 2022, only two days after the Artemis mission started its 25-day total journey. The entire mission was uncrewed, but the optical navigation camera onboard was able to snap this amazing picture of earth as it had just started the long journey through space.
#4: Orion, Earth, and the Moon
This photo is a perfect lesson in relativity! Taken by the Orion spacecraft as it reached the furthest point on its journey, this photo shows an incredible shot of both the moon and earth side by side. Since Orion was so much closer to the moon at the time, it looks like the moon is quite a bit larger than the earth, even though we know that isn’t the case. It just goes to show how relative things can appear in space!
#5: Earth from Orbit: NOAA Debuts First Imagery from GOES-18
For our final photo today, we get to see the earth in all its glory. This stunning photo was taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration right after they launched their GOES-18 satellite. The satellite is designed to help with weather forecasting and tracking at a level that hasn’t really been seen before. In fact, the full-size image of this photo is around 1/5th of a gigabyte, showing just how incredibly detailed it really is. If we were to upload the full size, your computer wouldn’t even load the web page!
Are These Photos From the James Webb Space Telescope?
Although these images are incredibly beautiful, they aren’t from the most famous telescope that people are talking about right now. That telescope is named the James Webb Space Telescope and was created as the next evolution of the Hubble Deep Space Telescope. Since the James Webb Telescope was designed to take photos of things that are really far away, it isn’t great for taking amazing pictures of the earth. If the James Webb Telescope were to be pointed at the earth, it would sort of be like trying to look at your own hand using a pair of binoculars.
For fun, here’s a quick slideshow of some of the photos recently taken by the James Webb Space Telescope!
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The photo featured at the top of this post is ©
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