The recently launched Suomi-NPP satellite has returned its first Blue Marble image of the Earth.
This remarkable image is a composite of a number of image swaths acquired on 4 January. The image shows northern and central America in remarkable detail from an altitude of 512 miles.
Even more fascinating, however, is the thin blue tinted atmosphere extending out into the blackness of space. The Earth's atmosphere is estimated at 300 miles thick - although 80% of it exists within 10 miles of the surface. It is this remarkably thin shield of nitrogen and oxygen that protects us from the extremes of solar and cosmic radiation. It also sustains life and helps make our planet into vibrant world.
To view full image click on the insert image.
Image credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring