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22 May, 2014 21:50

NASA creates Earth's 'Global Selfie' zoom-in mosaic from 32,000 pictures

NASA creates Earth's 'Global Selfie' zoom-in mosaic from 32,000 pictures

NASA released a mosaic image of our planet on Tuesday, made up of 36,000 individual photographs that were taken on Earth Day and posted on social media with the #GlobalSelfie hashtag.

NASA released a mosaic image of our planet on Tuesday, made up of 36,000 individual photographs that were taken on Earth Day and posted on social media with the #GlobalSelfie hashtag.

On Tuesday, April 22, the US space agency posed the question on social media, "Where are you on Earth right now?" They asked people to take a selfie outside and tag #GlobalSelfie. The goal was to use each picture as a pixel in the creation of a “Global Selfie” – a mosaic image that would look like Earth appeared from space on Earth Day, NASA said about the project. Social media users could download and print out a sign (available in 22 different languages) to include in their pictures.

Selfies were posted by people on every continent and 113 countries and regions, from Antarctica to Yemen, Greenland to Guatemala, and Pakistan to Peru, according to the NASA press release. The resulting global mosaic is a zoomable 3.2-gigapixel image that users can scan and explore to look at individual photos.

NASA compiled a video playlist of some of the submissions as well.

The project was designed to encourage environmental awareness and recognize the agency's ongoing work to protect our home planet, the statement said. The images were cultivated from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Flickr, then blended with weather satellite imagery taken at the same time.

"We were overwhelmed to see people participate from so many countries," Peg Luce, deputy director of NASA's Earth Science Division, said in a written statement. "We're very grateful that people took the time to celebrate our home planet together, and we look forward to everyone doing their part to be good stewards of our precious Earth."

Image by NASA

The mosaic is based on views of each hemisphere that were captured on April 22, 2014, by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, a joint mission between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “The diagonal stripes in the images are due to the satellite capturing the reflection of sunlight off ocean waters,” NASA’s project wrap-up said.

The Suomi NPP satellite, launched in 2011, is “quite likely the most advanced weather satellite we’ve ever had,” Slate reported. NOAA uses the polar-orbiting spacecraft for predicting weather because it provides “enhanced true color” images of the Earth in 10 color channels, according to Slate. It orbits Earth every 102 minutes.

"With the Global Selfie, NASA used crowd-sourced digital imagery to illustrate a different aspect of Earth than has been measured from satellites for decades: a mosaic of faces from around the globe," Luce said.

Image by NASA

NASA noted it is focusing on our home planet this year, not just missions to other planets and galaxies. “The Global Selfie is part of a special year for NASA Earth science,” the statement said. “For the first time in more than a decade, five NASA Earth Science missions are scheduled to launch in one year.”

The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, was launched in February. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 is set to launch in July, with the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission to follow in November. And two Earth science instruments -- RapidScat and the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System -- will be launched to the International Space Station in 2014, NASA said.

Here are some of the tweets that made up the Global Selfie mosaic:

Our friends at Sploid made a zooming gif of our #GlobalSelfie, check it out: http://t.co/OIdiaDL8G7pic.twitter.com/sO8Uh462ud

— NASA Goddard (@NASAGoddard) May 22, 2014

Sesame Street got in on the action.

Elmo is so excited for Earth Day! Here's Elmo's #GlobalSelfie! pic.twitter.com/t6P3NloqcU

— Sesame Street (@sesamestreet) April 22, 2014

As did Lego.

Better late than never..... here's my #GlobalSelfie for @NASA's Earth Day!! pic.twitter.com/lfMFJ5fuZE

— Lego Pilot (@theLegoPilot) April 23, 2014

And a rascally cat.

Zip The Cat wanted to get in on today's #GlobalSelfie action too. pic.twitter.com/xstXkdrf3p

— Dave Lavery (@davelavery) April 23, 2014

The US Embassy in Oman participated.


— U.S. Embassy Muscat (@USEmbMuscat) April 23, 2014

Tweets came in from Ukraine.

Little late with my #GlobalSelfie anyway that's my first selfie ever:) Hi @NASA! Ukraine is here. pic.twitter.com/VFeUs1QKQ2

— Piotr Fomin (@PedroFominguez) April 23, 2014

And Greenland.

Have you taken your @NASASocial@NASA#globalselfie? Here's a picture submitted by our fellow employee in Greenland! pic.twitter.com/fiUHeln4Cq

— Honeywell Aerospace (@Honeywell_Aero) April 22, 2014

Some were worth flipping over.

Future Mars explorers practicing their Zero-G moves to prepare for their mission on @NASA_SLS#GlobalSelfiepic.twitter.com/e8VQz7y2gu

— Ms. Rocketheels (@Rocketheels) April 22, 2014

Others were under water.

Celebrating the Blue of #EarthDay by teaching teens how to scuba dive! Reach a child, change history! #GlobalSelfiepic.twitter.com/VKTLziBrds

— Annie Crawley (@AnnieCrawley) April 22, 2014

And one was out of this world.

#GlobalSelfie indeed! RT @AstroRM: EVA selfie. Space suit makes it hard to get a good selfie. I tried several today. pic.twitter.com/rTU6h4fIdB

— Ed Van Cise (@Carbon_Flight) April 23, 2014