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Earth as Art
November 17, 2010 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Wired has selected a few of their favourite "enhanced" images of Earth taken by the Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 satellites.

Full collection is available on the USGS website. High-res photos available with registration only.
posted by gman (24 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gosh, these are very pretty. New desktop ahoy!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:30 AM on November 17, 2010


The Karman vortices are awesome. I think the Wired people didn't really pick the best stuff.
posted by dhruva at 9:36 AM on November 17, 2010


It's like God discovered HDR.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2010


i bet these photos would look a lot better with difference mode turned off
posted by nathancaswell at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2010


we are so tiny. and color-enhanced.
posted by not_on_display at 9:39 AM on November 17, 2010


Who knew that flower power lives on in the Iranian desert.
posted by Beardman at 10:05 AM on November 17, 2010


The blurb in the article omitted one of the most interesting facts about the Belcher islands: they are undergoing isostatic rebound. Viewed one way, they are rising out of the water. In fact, the whole of Hudson Bay is undergoing a rebound of about 15mm/a, one of the fastest rates in the world.
posted by chebucto at 10:09 AM on November 17, 2010


Was I the only one paging through these saying, "Greenland, Greenland, show me Greenland?" Yes? OK. I am obsessed.
posted by Mister_A at 10:18 AM on November 17, 2010


The Mississippi River one looks uncannily like something by Gustav Klimt.
posted by wayland at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2010


It's pretty sad when we need false colors to find beauty in Nature.
posted by rocket88 at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2010


Here's the Sahara from a somewhat lower 30,000 feet.
posted by iamck at 10:51 AM on November 17, 2010


"Yeah, that's right. Florida is really THAT BIG."
posted by Eideteker at 10:54 AM on November 17, 2010


I am inordinately pleased that I recognized the Byrd glacier without having to read the text. (Some obsessions are perfectly healthy, Mister_A!)

I'm also inordinately irritated that I had to register to download images from the USGS (I mean, why? I don't if I want to download images from NASA), and then the download didn't work anyway.
posted by rtha at 10:55 AM on November 17, 2010


On lack of preview, or adequate reading, even:

It's pretty sad when we need false colors to find beauty in Nature.

For me, it's not that things aren't beautiful if they don't have false colors; the false color process emphasizes different aspects of the geography and geology. It's cool.
posted by rtha at 10:59 AM on November 17, 2010


oh how i love fractals!
posted by anya32 at 11:23 AM on November 17, 2010


When do they soom in and see a unicorn?
posted by GuyZero at 11:40 AM on November 17, 2010


A perfect post for GIS Day!
posted by troika at 11:42 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


These are fantastic. Some of the captions reveal the source of the false colors, which is cool. They might've replaced "imaginative" commentary like "this one is like van gogh" or "this looks like a giant veiny kidney" with more information on the process. That would really complete the picture.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:57 AM on November 17, 2010


It's pretty sad when we need false colors to find beauty in Nature.

To be fair to the Landsat satellite, it collects data in seven bands. Our eyes can only see three. You might consider these images to be more natural than our normal vision...

I'm also inordinately irritated that I had to register to download images from the USGS (I mean, why? I don't if I want to download images from NASA), and then the download didn't work anyway.

Oh man. American agencies are fantastic, and I won't hear a word said against them. At least they do offer their data for free, unlike agencies holding data like this in, say, Australia or the UK, who will charge you an exhorbitant "data retrieval" fee (which, they swear is ONLY for data retrieval, the data is public, they swear), then get you to sign forms in triplicate making you declare you'll never share that "public" data with anyone. Am I right, GIS nerds?
posted by Jimbob at 12:15 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, I agree completely with the YAY FREE! part of it - no problems there! - but if all I want is to download free images, not order maps/posters/etc that cost money, then don't make me register.
posted by rtha at 12:33 PM on November 17, 2010


I settled on this one, but the barbarians kept coming, and before I knew it, Suleiman managed to achieve a space race win before I even got out of the Classical era.
posted by crunchland at 12:43 PM on November 17, 2010


Jimbob: right you are on the data access. Moving back to Canada after doing postgrad work in the US was quite frustrating. Ironic or not, the public science agencies in the US (USGS, NOAA, NASA, etc) do amazing work and provide incredible datasets and services, mostly for free and usually (but not in this case, grrr) with good interfaces for downloading.

To be fair to the Landsat satellite, it collects data in seven bands. Our eyes can only see three. You might consider these images to be more natural than our normal vision...

You might, but that would require a big stretch in the meaning of the word "natural". The false colour only comes after any number of arbitrary mappings from the sensor bands to an RGB or CMYK colour model. On the other hand, dealing with landsat and similar images helped me understand how it could be that birds (especially pigeons) can see "more" colours than we do. Bird eyes have four or five different kinds of cones (we have three) and map colours on 4 or 5 dimensions.

I am inordinately pleased that I recognized the Byrd glacier without having to read the text.

I got four: Belcher islands, Mississippi oxbows, Byrd glacier, Iranian desert, came close on a few others but I am the opposite of inordinately pleased because I missed Liverpool bay, an area I've been looking at a fair bit in the last month so really should have known...
posted by bumpkin at 1:09 PM on November 17, 2010


The coast of Greenland looks like my lungs.
posted by clavdivs at 3:47 PM on November 17, 2010


Unfortunately, the coast of Korea smells like my farts.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:55 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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