While you may not currently be able to visit the NASA website due to political shenanigans, the European Space Agency (ESA) portal is still open for business. It’s a good thing too, as I want to look at stunning satellite photographs of Earth, by golly.
Over at the ESA’s Observing the Earth page, visitors like you and me can peep at all manner of space porn, as some would call it. Each stellar image was captured by satellite from space and is accompanied by a short descriptive blurb that explains exactly what it is you are ogling. The archive goes back quite a bit, so there is plenty to pour over on a lazy afternoon.
To get you started on your very own space adventure, here are a few of my favorite images from the site.
Above – Korea’s Kompsat-2 satellite captured this image of the Namib Desert, the oldest desert in the world, back in January 2012. In this photograph, one can just make out the road leading to popular tourist destination Dune 45, the pale white line of the path running parallel to the dry river bed of the Tsauchab. Black dots hint at vegetation, while salt deposits stand out as bright white streaks.
Above – In this image, the Kompsat-2 satellite captures an expanse of the Peruvian Andes seen in May 2011.
Above – Japan’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) took this snapshot featuring part of Belize’s Barrier Reef, in particular a section known as the Lighthouse Atoll. Toward the top of the image, keen eyes will be able to spot a small, dark circle otherwise known as the Great Blue Hole. The image was taken in March 2011.
Above – In November 2008, the Ikonos-2 satellite captured this image from high above Iran’s Dasht-e Kavir, a salt desert in the central northern reaches of the country.
Above – Envisat scoped out the phytoplankton bloom in the Barents Sea off the northernmost point of mainland Europe. The image was taken in August 2011.
Above – Japan’s ALOS captured other images, of course, including this one featuring the Betsiboka estuary in northwest Madagascar. This image was taken in September 2010.