Oh, the humanity! Revel in NASA’s ‘Global Selfie’

A low-resolution preview of the 3.2-billion-pixel sized NASA Earth Day Global Selfie 2014 photo mosaic. The image is comprised of 36,422 individual photos submitted by people around the world. Click to go to the large, interactive gigapan image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NOAA

Last month on Earth Day NASA asked anyone with a camera to snap a selfie to create a portrait of the planet made of thousands of individual faces – a ‘global selfie’. The project was designed to encourage environmental awareness and recognize the agency’s ongoing work to study and protect our blue world through satellites (17 in all), airborne and ground-based monitoring.

A tiny sample of NASA’s ‘Global Selfie’. Credit: NASA

People on every continent – 113 countries and regions in all – posted pictures. After weeks of curating more than 50,000 submissions from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Flickr, a grand portrait using 36,422 individual photos was finally assembled into a gigantic mosaic.

A great example of photos taken by the Suomi NPP satellite is this composite image of Earth at night taken during April and October 2012. It took 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. Click for a monsterly awesome version. Credit: Robert Simmon

The background photos of the Earth itself are based on pictures of each hemisphere captured on Earth Day 2014 by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. Suomi NPP, a joint mission between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, collects data on both long-term climate change and short-term weather conditions.

To really dig in, explore the full-resolution gigapan image. You can zoom and scroll across all 36,422 photos. Clicking on the ‘Snapshot’ icon in the lower left of your screen highlights one row of images at a time with information about each picture with the glide of your mouse. Unfortunately there’s no search engine to find individual photos by name. I’m still searching for mine!

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

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