Pictures from the Elektro-L No.1 Russian weather satellite of Earth are the highest-detail images yet, and come in at 121 megapixels. The color scheme comes from the image capture method, which combines data from three visible and one infrared wavelengths of light when it takes full-sized images of Earth every 30 minutes.
There’s been a long history of NASA-provided “Blue Marble” images of Earth, but now we’re getting a different perspective thanks to photos taken by the Elektro-L No.1 Russian weather satellite. Unlike NASA’s pictures, this satellite produces 121-megapixel images that capture the Earth in one shot instead of a collection of pictures from multiple flybys stitched together. The result is the highest-resolution single picture of Earth yet. The image certainly looks different than what we’re used to seeing, and that’s because the sensor aboard the weather satellite combines data from three visible and one infrared wavelengths of light, a method that turns vegetation into the rust color that dominates the shot.
An educator named James Drake obtained over 350 full-resolution photos from the NTs OMZ (Russian Research Center for Earth Operative Monitoring), and used them to make several videos showcasing a day in the life of Earth. The satellite takes a full image of Earth from its stationary point over 35,000 kilometers above the Indian Ocean every 30 minutes, providing the material for the video below. The images have a resolution of one kilometer per pixel, and the one you see above was taken on May 14, 2011. Be sure to check a zoomable version of the image here to see the detail for yourself and be reminded of just how tiny we really are.