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Russian Satellite Takes Most Detailed 121-Megapixel Image of Earth Yet

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the realer-than-real dept.

Earth 123

Diggester writes "The satellite, known as Elektro-L No.1, took an image from its stationary point over 35,000 kilometers above the Indian Ocean. This is the most detailed image of the Earth yet available, capturing the Earth in a single shot with 121-megapixels. NASA satellites use a collection of pictures from multiple flybys stitched together. The detail in the pic is just amazing."

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123 comments

Sweet! (3, Funny)

SailorSpork (1080153) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995559)

Now all I need is a 2000 inch TV to view it on. I think Weird Al knows where to get one.

Re:Sweet! (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995777)

Thats only a square 11000 pixels on a side. A 300 dpi laserprinter would make a roughly one yard/one meter printout.

At a slightly higher resolution that would be a metric A0 paper size. printers that big do exist but are kinda expensive. Best upload it to your local printer/office store and let them print it instead of do it yourself.

Re:Sweet! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996021)

300 dpi isn't event that good for a laser printer. Even cheap laser printers can do 600 and often 1200 dpi.

Re:Sweet! (2)

trb (8509) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996561)

A photo image like this tends to have pixels that each store 24 bits of RGB color (one of about 16.7 million light colors). A color laser printer pixel usually has one of four pixel ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, or black). You can compare the pixels, but you shouldn't compare them one to one.

Re:Sweet! (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996703)

I specified that based on visual acuity limits. There's a lot of optical theory explaining why over 300 dpi is mostly useless for toner on paper. Unless your eyeball lens diameter is 10 times bigger than the average human or your retina cell layout is different than all known humans, it is not optically possible to resolve 3000 dpi or whatever on paper under normal conditions and lighting. Depending on how close you can hold the paper before you can't focus on it anymore, and tangentially depending on how bright the light it (little pinhole camera iris) humans top out around 300 dpi.

Now, projected thru transparencies onto a overhead, higher res works, if you have old fashioned overhead projectors and sit close to the screen. Also there are ugly aliasing and anti-aliasing effects that can be avoided by higher res with real vector scaling. And high res allows better/smoother color mixing, in that bluring together 2**8 pixels of 2**16 color is the same as one 2**24 pixel, more or less. There are also relative brightness/consistency effects where making a "line" that varies from 8 to 9 pixels wide looks a lot less consistent than a line that is 85 or 86 pixels wide at 10 times the res, look at the percentage variation of one pixel. If the lighting is really bad, there are strange shadow effects where you can perceive over 300 dpi if the shadows land just right. Also there are some strange toner based textural issues where the plastic surface of thinner lines literally looks different. And some 3-d effects of toner on paper. So over 300 dpi is not a complete waste of time, just mostly a waste with average pictures under average conditions. It would be extremely hard to justify over 1200 dpi even in the weirdest corner cases.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997587)

300 DPI being enough is nonsense. I sometimes make prototype PCBs by laser printing on UV-transparent paper and at 300 DPI the "pixels" are clearly visible to the naked eye in 45-degree lines and diminish the quality of the layout. Even at 600 DPI the results aren't perfect and you need tracks at least 0.01 inches wide or else the printer will print them unevenly.

Re:Sweet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998635)

That's because of the half-toning or dithering your printer/driver is doing. 600dpi equates to a spacing of about 0.0016" per pixel, which is pretty tiny. You're probably getting some kind of interpolation effect from not feeding the printer pixel-perfect art.

Re:Sweet! (2)

Freultwah (739055) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998085)

Even though you can't tell the difference between 300 and 600 dpi black text on white paper, you sure as hell can tell the difference between 85 lpi (laser printer halftones) and 175 lpi (glossy magazine halftones). And you cannot pull off said 175 lpi (even 150 lpi) with less than 1200 dpi, 2400 dpi being recommended. The 600 dpi printer just isn't exact enough.

Re:Sweet! (1, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995779)

Now all I need is a 2000 inch TV to view it on. I think Weird Al knows where to get one.

Yeah .. but Frank got the last one. And don't touch his remote either!

Re:Sweet! (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996583)

...and 90,000 watts of Dolby sound!

Re:Sweet! (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997211)

What a lucky guy Frank is! I hear he got the last one in stock!

Wait, what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995581)

"capturing the Earth in a single shot " ... "use a collection of pictures from multiple flybys stitched together"

So uh. Former: very impressed. Latter: more megapixels, nice, but not that impressive.

So which is it?

Re:Wait, what? (4, Insightful)

IAmGarethAdams (990037) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995669)

NASA satellites use a collection of pictures from multiple flybys stitched together.

The [Russian] satellite [...] took an image [...] capturing the Earth in a single shot with 121-megapixels.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Interesting)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996277)

The Russian method, as linked in the article, is one large picture. It's actually a composite of different wavelengths, which is really cool. The rust effect is from the IR reflection of vegetation.

When NASA does it, as in the pictures that aren't this one, they stitch together a composite.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996917)

The rust is annoying though... Because they're compressing 4 wavelengths into 3 wavelengths. An image with only the RGB would look nicer. They could store the 4th IR channel as alpha channel...

Re:Wait, what? (3, Informative)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998801)

The rust is annoying though... Because they're compressing 4 wavelengths into 3 wavelengths. An image with only the RGB would look nicer. They could store the 4th IR channel as alpha channel...

No matter which way you "look" at something you are either compressing or ignoring some quality of light. The "art" of astrophotography is therefore about how much information you intend to leave out and how much you squeeze into the narrow bands of light we humans can perceive. If you are not happy with the rendering, you might be able to source the uncompressed scientific data -- which will still only ever contain partial-information due to optical, CCD and other limitations -- and render it yourself [spacetelescope.org] ... Assuming Roskosmos make their equivalent of FITS data available to the public like NASA does.

Re:Wait, what? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997007)

Both versions are stitched together. The Russian version stitches 121 million images with less temporal resolution.

Re:Wait, what? (5, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996501)

As a russian, I would like to take this opportunity to insolently question whether NASA still has any satellites at all, with all the funding cuts and everything.

Re:Wait, what? (4, Funny)

hazah (807503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996701)

As another russian, I find that funny.

Re:Wait, what? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997365)

As neither Russian nor American I find it both funny and unfunny at the same time.

Yours,

Shroedinger the Cat.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Interesting)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996927)

Thank you for Sputnik and Vostok.

You put the U.S. into such a panic about falling behind in science and technology that they funded my science education.

I couldn't have done it today. No more free tax-funded education. We have to go out and buy our education the free market. No more free tuition at City College. You have to be rich to study engineering in America now.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997737)

Karl Marx is forgotten so there is nothing to be affraid anymore, so you have to pay.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998541)

Thank you for Sputnik and Vostok.

You put the U.S. into such a panic about falling behind in science and technology that they funded my science education.

I couldn't have done it today. No more free tax-funded education. We have to go out and buy our education the free market. No more free tuition at City College. You have to be rich to study engineering in America now.

In the US, the people elect the government.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998969)

yeah, the party chiefs, you mean.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996541)

All this time, I thought the Russians just used a pencil.

Re:Wait, what? (2)

hazah (807503) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996715)

We do. They work.

Re:Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998337)

We do. They work.

Well, at least something works in Russia.

Upside down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995661)

Is it just me or have the poles flipped?

Re:Upside down? (3, Funny)

geoffball (1195685) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995763)

This is actually a pic of the anti-Earth in a parallel universe. This Earth is clearly wearing a goatee.

Re:Upside down? (1)

bd580slashdot (1948328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997985)

The earth is wearing a goatse? That's one big asshat.

Re:Upside down? (4, Interesting)

INT_QRK (1043164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995969)

Well, you'd be right if North was actually up. However, it's settled science that West is actually up given that the sun and planets rotate top to bottom down the solar system's vertical plane.

Re:Upside down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996391)

Funny, I'd never really thought about it that way. So the "bottom" of a planet is whichever point is closest to the gravitational center of your system, making the poles (roughly), as the rotational endpoints, left and right?

Looks terrible (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995671)

The detail is fascinating but visually it looks terrible because it includes the infrared spectrum. It looks like a dead rock with sick black oceans. Awful.

Re:Looks terrible (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995889)

Agreed, why not just set the infrared "vegetation" band to some hue near green so that it can at least look a little like the real thing? Or maybe just leave the IR pass out altogether? I like my Nasa-made "ghettopixel" blue marble image much better, thanks.

Re:Looks terrible (4, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996423)

WHAT

chromatic abberation in MY 1.21 gigapixel space photo?

this was NOT the future I was promised

send it back

Re:Looks terrible (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998451)

Looking carefully, I think it's not chromatic aberration, it's a slight change in lighting conditions, cloud cover, and (perhaps) satellite orientation during the shot. I expect that each color filter image was taken separately, and a several minutes apart. Any movement, or color change between each exposure leads to those edge effects you see.

At least it doesn't have that fake, way too thick and bright "atmosphere" that the more natural colored NASA image has (the famous one centered on North America). That always drives me nuts when I see it.

Brad Hoehne- Columbus, OH

Re:Looks terrible (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996717)

Well, If you look at how much is covered in concrete and asphalt, then have a look at where the Mississippi dumps into the Gulf couple with how drinkable most river water is..... ........It's a dead rock with sick black oceans.

  When you zoom in a little on google maps, all the green stuff is life, all the grey stuff is cancer.

Looks Photoshopped (1, Flamebait)

deains (1726012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995685)

The shadows are completely wrong. 'Nuff said.

Re:Looks Photoshopped (4, Informative)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995761)

It looks photoshopped because it includes false color data from an infrared cam. It's not photoshopped.

Re:Looks Photoshopped (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996171)

The one thing that does bother me is the chromatic aberration - especially at higher magnifications, the overlap between the colors is very jarring.

I rather doubt the CA filters in Photoshop could handle this problem, but it would give you a more esthetic result.

Re:Looks Photoshopped (2)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997485)

This is the original image. You're free to do as many lossy operations on it as your heart desires.

Great pic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995691)

Of the Indian Ocean. I'm sure the folks at Diego Garcia will be happy.

Why all this rust-orange? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995715)

Also, I looked at the zoomable image and zoomed in all the way in and.... saw mostly macroblocks? Is that still "amazing detail" in a sense that eludes me?

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995811)

The article explains the color, maybe read it?

It also says just how big an area each pixel covers.

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (5, Funny)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995879)

The article explains the color, maybe read it?

You must be new here.

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (4, Funny)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995911)

I think the new "in" joke is to ask whether you've read the article.

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996177)

Well... Have you?

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (1, Funny)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996337)

I think the new "in" joke is to ask whether you've read the article.

I miss "No, I'm New Here!"

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998131)

Actually that's quite old, and it's not really a joke at all. The joke is if you have actually read it.

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995935)

Also, I looked at the zoomable image and zoomed in all the way in and.... saw mostly macroblocks? Is that still "amazing detail" in a sense that eludes me?

That particular Gigapan upload was 1.12Gpix which suggests that they did some sort of interpolation to make it appear more grandiose. And the rust-orange is because that is the most creative thing the russians could think of to use the IR band for (heck with making it some shade of dark green...)

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996635)

Yeah, I noticed the same thing. I would have thought that with 1km resolution you might be able to pick out a vague smudge where some some of the larger cities in India and China that were visible from the satellite, but no, just massive amounts of chromatic aberation from the imaging method used. Clearly roads are going to be out, so I tried again with the 1080p video clip - thought that maybe Mumbai or Shanghai would show up as a brighter spot in the darkness - after all you can see city lights on much lower resolution NASA images [nasa.gov] , right? No such luck. Clearly we are not visible from outerspace in the wavelengths scanned by Elektro-L No.1, or the lights didn't survive the image processing technique. No way we're going to attract the attention of any passing aliens at this rate. Whether that's a good thing or bad, is entirely up to the reader...

Re:Why all this rust-orange? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996141)

Also, I looked at the zoomable image and zoomed in all the way in and.... saw mostly macroblocks? Is that still "amazing detail" in a sense that eludes me?

Seriously dude, I was all excited about being about to zoom in on the cleavage of a few million Indian chicks. No such luck. :(

what's the availability/licensing? (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995751)

One reason the NASA global-coverage image sets that were released in 2002 (with updates starting in 2005) have become the de-facto standard source is that: 1) anyone can download them; and 2) they're in the public domain, so anyone can use them for any purpose. You can get a bunch of versions here [nasa.gov] and from the Visible Earth site linked at the bottom of that page.

This one looks cool, but further use will be limited if the only thing I can do with it is look at it in this online zooming browser.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (3, Insightful)

glassware (195317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995773)

Also, there seems to be a lot of chromatic distortion on the image. Check out the clouds - there are three separate registrations for each color in the cloud image. Were their optics not calibrated, or did they take each color picture separately?

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (3, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995837)

I came into the comments to say this. Holy hell is the chromatic aberration on that image absolutely terribly. It looks a lot like they took the different color channels separately (that would explain why the clouds, which are moving, were especially bad), and TFA says the pictures take ~30 minutes each, so that's the only thing that makes sense to me.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (2)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996175)

Actually, yeah -- I bet that's it. It's not optical problems; it's a delay between the images of each color channel.

Not sure why they should take 30 minutes each, though.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997413)

For processing such an image for publicity release, it'd be customary to estimate motion vector fields between each pair of consecutively taken images, and apply motion compensation to register the clouds with minimal aberration. They apparently didn't do that.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997747)

If I'm understanding the article correctly, it sounds like they sent the raw data to "an educator named James Drake" on request. Presumably he's the one who did the overlay, but possibly doesn't have any specialist background in this area, so did it the quick-and-dirty way.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996343)

I came into the comments

I do hope you've cleaned up after yourself. Slashdot is messy enough as is.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (1)

stderr_dk (902007) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996427)

TFA says the pictures take ~30 minutes each, so that's the only thing that makes sense to me.

TFA says...

The satellite takes a full image of Earth from its stationary point over 35,000 kilometers above the Indian Ocean every 30 minutes, providing the material for the video below.

It doesn't say anything about shutter speed/exposure time or how long it takes to transfer a single image back to Earth.
It only says "wait 30 minutes between taking a picture".

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996449)

If only there was an article [theverge.com] somewhere that described how they made the image...

The image certainly looks different than what we're used to seeing, and that's because the camera aboard the weather satellite combines data from three visible and one infrared wavelengths of light, a method that turns vegetation into the rust color that dominates the shot.

Re:what's the availability/licensing? (1)

Jerome H (990344) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996255)

I've used the NASA's texture for my little OpenGL program, I must say it's very nice of their part to provide everything with great details and multiple layers.

Ugh, what's with the optics? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995765)

Holy chromatic aberration. You'd think an organization capable of blasting things into space could do a bit better than that.

Re:Ugh, what's with the optics? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995835)

Clearly they bought that camera because it has "the most megapixels"

Re:Ugh, what's with the optics? (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996093)

Well, that's fine. That's why this is cool. They just need a lens that does just as well.

Re:Ugh, what's with the optics? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996013)

That's what happens when you spring for a high end body (to keep up with the Joneses) and then cheap out on crap lenses - and then don't bother creating a lens profile in Lightroom to correct CA in post. ;)

Re:Ugh, what's with the optics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996099)

That was my first reaction, too.
And when you zoom in, it gets really blurry. So the actual, useful resolution is... maybe 10 MegaPixel ?

Also, look at the borders of the Earth: http://imgur.com/7Z5OF.png [imgur.com]
???
Please explain...

Re:Ugh, what's with the optics? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996335)

I suspect it is from how the image was composited. The article, if you'd bothered to read it, indicates that the camera takes shots using four color filters: RBG, but also an infrared filter. The image you see above is the composite of those four images (with the infrared given a reddish brown tint, which makes all the vegetation look brown), and there may well be some registration error that wasn't accounted for.

Now where... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995791)

... is that great wall supposed to be visible from space?

Re:Now where... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997569)

... is that great wall supposed to be visible from space?

They may have slightly exaggerated that claim [nasa.gov]

Oh no !!! (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995801)

It is upside down. We are all going to fall off !!!

What's they big deal? (2)

zentigger (203922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995825)

It still only has a resolution of 1KM per pixel and the chromatic aberration is terrible.

In Soviet Russia... (1, Funny)

ark1 (873448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995849)

sky watches You!

"Most detailed"? Bullshit. (0)

mdenham (747985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995867)

Doing the math (~7900mi diameter, 11k pixels to a side) it turns out that each pixel covers a square that's slightly less than half a square mile (about 1.2 square kilometers).

I'm pretty sure that any one of the government satellites that are watching everything can pick out the individual hairs on my ass while I'm mooning it, which gives a resolution of closer to one pixel = 1/32 of an inch... or a 1.8-exapixel image of the Earth.

Re:"Most detailed"? Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39995931)

Not bullshit. Those spy sats aren't taking shots of the entire earth in one shot, that'd be useless for its purpose.

Re:"Most detailed"? Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996043)

It would be eminently useful -- sadly, the horizon is real, so anything in LEO can only see a small fraction of Earth at an instant and CCDs are flat and expensive, not curved and dirt-cheap, so capturing even that horizon-limited view at any decent resolution is completely infeasible.

Re:"Most detailed"? Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996267)

I'm pretty sure that any one of the government satellites that are watching everything can pick out the individual hairs on my ass while I'm mooning it, which gives a resolution of closer to one pixel = 1/32 of an inch... or a 1.8-exapixel image of the Earth.

Assume the satellite is at an altitude of 100m (ridiculously low) and only images you from directly overhead (best case), and uses 400nm light; you propose a resolution of 1/32" or 5*10-9 radians. Using the Rayleigh criterion, it's trivial to calculate this requires a lens or reflector of 100m diameter.

Nice pile of bullshit there -- but by all means, keep uncritically accepting the rumors of your government's ludicrous capability. After all, the requirement for a panopticon is not that everyone can always be seen, but that everyone "knows" they can always be seen.

Re:"Most detailed"? Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996611)

Oops... (blame my American upbringing) the first 100m (altitude) is meant as 100 miles. The dish diameter is 100m = 100 metres.

why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39995869)

This is the 2nd Russian picture i have seen taken of the planet that makes it look kinda 'orangy'

NASA's blue marble photo is what I'm used to seeing http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/57000/57723/globe_east_540.jpg [nasa.gov]

So why does it look different in Russian photos? What version is more accurate?

Re:why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (3, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996113)

The "Blue Marble" image you're pointing at is based on EOS (Terra/Aqua) imagery. The most recent NASA Blue Marble (Blue Marble 2012 [nasa.gov] ) is a composite based on the new NPP Suomi spacecraft, with approximately a 1-km pixel resolution.

As to "accurate"... I think the Blue Marble images (based on the visible-light band sensors of their respective spacecraft) are closer to what a naked eye in orbit would perceive than the Russian imagery, which seems to include false-color infrared. But "naked eye in orbit" is scientifically less useful than the multi-spectral IR and visible all of these spacecraft can sense.

Re:why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996369)

Correction: the spatial resolution of the NPP Suomi (VIIRS instrument) imagery is about 500 meters per pixel, not 1km. 1km is the approximate resolution of the MODIS instrument for the previous-generation Blue Marble pictures (Terra and Aqua spacecraft).

Re:why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996417)

What they should do is just provide all the spectral channels in their literal numeric form, and let people colorize them as they prefer.

Re:why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996509)

I really dislike the 2012 Blue Marble, due to the very visible stripes where it's been quilted. It may have far more pixels, but I think the original 1972 Apollo 17 image is far more visually impressive.

But to me, nothing so far beats this 43 year old photo [wikipedia.org] .
That's my home, there!

Re:why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998223)

But to me, nothing so far beats this 43 year old photo.
That's my home, there!

Make my eyes tear up every time...

Re:why do Russian and US colors vary so much? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996143)

"The image certainly looks different than what we're used to seeing, and that's because the camera aboard the weather satellite combines data from three visible and one infrared wavelengths of light, a method that turns vegetation into the rust color that dominates the shot."

Does not corellate with my eyes (1)

GbrDead (702506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996041)

According to the picture, everything around me (South-Eastern Europe) should be orange! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqwJvPSiL_I [youtube.com]

clouds (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996085)

I expected the weather (by that I mean clouds) to move faster. I may just be used to seeing weather maps on the TV update in 4 hour slides. I'm sure the 100mph winds I'm looking at, at that scale is fast enough :)

Photoshop proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996181)

This is obviously Photoshopped - everyone knows that the earth isn't upside down!

real picture (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996389)

Where's the real picture? I don't want a stinkin flash app. 16-bit PNG FTW!

Please fix the colors (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996525)

It looks like the Jupiter moon Europa. That can't be right.
Where is all the green stuff?

Headling wording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996629)

Were previous 121-MP images of the Earth not as detailed? The headline implies some kind of improvement. Is this the largest image of its kind?

Waldo too! (3, Funny)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996649)

The detail in the pic is just amazing.

And they still can't find Carmen Sandiego.

121 Mpixels vs photographic film (2)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#39996751)

121 megapixels -- can any of the photo aficionados tell us how that compares with the shots of earth taken with the film cameras aboard the Apollo spacecraft? Some of those were mighty good.

Re:121 Mpixels vs photographic film (5, Interesting)

mk1004 (2488060) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997271)

The cameras used in the Apollo program included a 70mm Hasselblad. IIRC, years ago as digital cameras struggled to pass the 2 to 3 megapixel range, it was said that to be equivalent to 35mm, you'd need 15-18 megapixel. That was, I believe, to match the grain densities of 64 or 100 speed film. So scale that up about 4x to go from 35mm to 70mm. I'd say those Hasselblads did just fine.

Re:121 Mpixels vs photographic film (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998063)

Depends on the film stock, sensitivity and output equipment.

A modern high-quality drum scan of a KR64 slide can top 1 gigapixel when starting from a 35mm-format (24x36mm) source image. The original images from the Hasselblads on the Apollo missions could easily clear 4 gigapixels before the grain reaches pixel size, assuming it was taken on KR64.

No, digital cannot compare to film for absolute resolution, gamut or accuracy. It does have convenience, and that's it.

Whole earth or half earth? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39996755)

capturing the Earth in a single shot
Wouldn't the satellite be able to capture only about half of Earth in a single shot?

It's a scanner, not a camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39997439)

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but the Elektro-L MSU-GS sensor is a scanner, not a camera. It does not acquire 121 megapixel images instantaneously. The sensor scans a strip of imagery across the earth, and multiple scans build up the full disk image. It takes 30 minutes to scan the full disk of the Earth. This technology has been around since the late 1960's. Similar sensors are operated by a number of space agencies for real-time weather applications, e.g.
http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/sat/Instruments_and_missions/SEVIRI.html

NOAA satellites image Earth at the same resolution (3, Interesting)

GOES_user (852842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39997597)

Our current series of geostationary weather satellites operated by NOAA have been taking images at 1 km resolution for the visible band and 4 km for four IR bands since 1995. The primary difference with Elektro is that it has more bands, two visible bands at 1 km and 8 IR bands at 4 km (which is why it looks blocky when you zoom in). A description of that imager can be found here: http://database.eohandbook.com/database/instrumentsummary.aspx?instrumentID=784 [eohandbook.com] The image referenced in the article is a false color composite, which has been a common product from weather satellites (geostationary and otherwise) since we started using them decades ago. It shows vegetation more than we have seen from GOES because it has a near-IR band. GOES typically takes "full disk" images every three hours. The US has a new platform going up in 2016 with 16 bands - visible bands are 0.5 km and IR are at 1 km. That sensor will not be able to do true color (some of us fought hard for that...) but it can be simulated to an extent (the sensor will have red and blue wavelength sensing abilities, with a near-IR band allowing use of a look-up table to generate green; the surface under thin clouds, around coastal areas, and some other cases don't look quite right). Japan has bought the same sensor from the same vendor but swapped out a band and replaced it with green, so they will have true color images at roughly 22,000x22,000 pixels in the 2014-2015 time frame. This new sensor can take "full disk" images every 15 minutes (that is the scan schedule set for the US, it could go faster than that). The US took true color images from a geostationary camera on ATS-3 in the late 1960s. As far as I know no one has taken true color images from the geostationary orbit since. I haven't looked closely at Elektro data but the loop I've seen indicates light leaking into the telescope as the sun starts to light the Earth in the east (ie sunrise) - it looks like a lens flare. Many weather satellites have issues like this to some extent, but in this case it was more pronounced than I've usually seen it.

3D! (1)

bastian74 (2565985) | more than 2 years ago | (#39998105)

I zoomed in and saw the color separations, but I don't have my 3d glasses handy so I can't see the effect.

Not a single snapshot, nor unique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39998537)

              This sensor is a low-quality clone of the GOES GEO satellites flown by NASA (see ). Like the GOES imager, the Elektro-L No.1 senosr is a scanner which collects a series of sub-images over an extended period (30 minutes here, closer to 20 minutes for GOES). 1 km in the VIS, 4 km in IR is standard. These sub-images are then mosaiced together, though whole disk @ full-res in the VIS is rarely woth the trouble because the file is a bit large. Many different color-maps combining VIS & IR are used, though "True-Color" is not available (would require three VIS bands). These sensors are distantly related to those on polar-orbiting satellites (e.g., MODIS), which collect in dozens of bands with VIS resolution of 250 meters (@ nadir).

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