Saturday, September 12, 2015

Looking at the Earth

That is the ISS HD Earth viewing experiment you see directly above.  It is a experiment to determine how quickly HD video camera image quality degrades when exposed to the space environment (mainly from cosmic ray damage) and verify the effectiveness of the design of the HDEV housing for thermal control.  The people behind the project kindly broadcast the video, which shows stunning images of Earth.

For a long time, most space photography was looking up, at the Moon, the Sun, and other astronomical objects.  Then, on Oct 24, 1946, a captured V2 was launched from New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range, with a camera taking photos every 1.5 seconds.  The camera was destroyed on landing, but the images survived.  This is the first image of Earth from space:

Since then, there have been thousands upon thousands of photos of Earth from space.
See here for some iconic ones, and see here to browse tons of photos of Earth. 
Why do astronauts love to take pictures of Earth?
Something called the Overview Effect.   To learn more about it, look here, (While you're at it, look at their image-a-day service here)
Then look here:

And here.

Of course, most of this is from low Earth orbit, there are plenty of pictures from farther away:
The Blue Marble
The Day the Earth Smiled
And Pale Blue Dot