With so many eyes in the sky there is no shortage of beautiful views of the Earth. This new shot — showing never before seen color and detail — is one single image at 121 megapixels (0.62 miles per pixel). The image comes courtesy of Russia's Elektro-L geostationary weather satellite located 36,000 kilometers above the equator taking a picture of the entire planet every 30 minutes.
The beautiful colors are somewhat surprising, with the dark orange or rust colors actually representing the vegetation around the globe.
So what's behind the unusual colors? The scientists operating the Elektro-L mixed various light wavelengths; they used three reflected sunlight bands, and two near infrared bands. The three sunlight bands simulate the colors you'd see in conventional pictures; it's the near infrared that picks up on vegetation since plants reflect in near infrared as well as green.
The other unusual thing about this image? It is a single shot where as according to James Drake — who processed the Elektro-L photo — the iconic "Blue Marble" shot of Earth is actually made out of a combination of images stitched together.
Robert Simmon — a scientist at NASA's Earth Observatory, Goddard Space Flight Center pointed out to Gizmodo the differences in the previous shots of the Earth and this new colorful version doesn't make one image worse or better than the other; they are just different visualizations based on different data sets.
Japan, Europe and the U.S. all have similar weather satellites in orbit as the Russian Elektro-L all taking a different look at our world. The U.S. has geostationary satellites located over our east and west coasts. The difference is that our satellites don't have the near infrared band that adds a different dimension to the color.
Many are calling this new shot of the Earth the highest resolution shot ever taken though that has not been confirmed. It is certainly does capture the imagination though!