Earth as art, a project of the USGS and NASA

This evening I stumbled across a large collection of satellite photos of Earth entitled “Our Earth as Art: A Landsat Perspective.” Each is a beautiful abstract image — that also happens to be a spectacular color photo of someplace on our planet.

There are approximately 130 such images available on the USGS website, which says of the images:

“Our Earth as Art: A Landsat Perspective” is a collection of spectacular satellite images acquired by the Landsat 7 satellite.  These remarkable portraits of earth were selected for their aesthetic value. The color enhanced satellite images show astonishing patterns and abstractions of vivid colors and fantastic shapes. The collection was originally developed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Landsat program — the United States’ oldest land-surface observation satellite system that captures remotely sensed images of the earth’s land surface and surrounding coastal regions. A series of satellites have been launched since 1972, with Landsat 5 and 7 currently in orbit. Landsat is a dual-agency program between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

This picture shows a series of rocky outcroppings in the Sahara Desert, near the Terkezi Oasis in the African nation of Chad (click for much larger PDF image):

4 thoughts on “Earth as art, a project of the USGS and NASA

  1. This is uncanny: Felix got hold of Google Earth today got us onto the desert somehow, and I thought, how incredibly artistic and beautiful! And now this. Thanks for the link, PiedType – brilliant.

  2. I’ve always loved maps of all kinds. My wife bought me a National Geographic world atlas for Christmas about 5 years ago. Now, with the explosion of quality images on the internet, I’m thinking the paper versions are obsolete by the time they hit the shelves. I’m saving mine just in case the power grid fails and we all sink back to basics. I’ll be one of the few who can show the stuff we used to know before it all went “POOF” forever.

    My other thought here is to marvel at the accessibility of such images, all without going to the trouble that astronauts do to experience such images in real time, the training, the suiting up, the adjustment to zero g, the loss of bone mass, going to the bathroom in zero g, the isolation. I’m sure it’s a thrill for most, but I react differently. The reason I know is my experience in flight training as a Midshipman. They would take us up and do aerobatics, pulling 3 g’s or more. They were all nuts. Besides almost losing my cookies I always had the impression that I was stationary and the universe was spinning around me – reverse relative motion. That’s when I knew beyond a doubt that Naval Aviation was not the path for me. I suspect a space capsule would have the same effect on me. The capsule would be stationary and the moon would be approaching. 🙄

    1. I’m a map nut too. Always have been. I still love, but no longer own, topo maps of all my favorite areas in Colorado. I do have one of Rocky Mountain National Park that I keep intending to hang somewhere. Any detailed topo or road map is like a ticket to another place, an alternate reality, memories or imaginings.

      Isn’t it marvelous that these images are just sitting out there waiting to be found and admired on our magical hi res screens? My cherished old book of moon images literally pales in comparison.

      “Reverse relative motion.” Now I know what that sensation is called. Thanks!

... and that's my two cents