Russian Satellite Takes 121 Megapixel Image And Video Of Earth

Lee Rannals for

A Russian weather satellite has taken a 121 megapixel image of planet Earth, over 22,000 miles above the surface.

The image was taken by Russia’s Electro-L satellite, and unlike other images taken by spacecrafts, it was taken in one single shot.

Normally, several images are taken by a space agency, then are stitched together in order to create one big image.  However, Roscosmos went about it another way with its 121 megapixel photo.  Each pixel in the image represents a little over a half-mile of the Earth’s surface.

The Electro-L satellite captures a picture of this quality every half-hour to monitor the weather on Earth.  If a strange weather pattern is seen, the Russian operators can remotely command the satellite to take images every 10 minutes.

The image uses a combination of visible and near-infrared wavelengths to make-up the image, so vegetation is seen as red, rather than green.

The Russian satellite, which launched in January 2011, sits in an orbit that matches the Earth’s rotation, known as a geo-stationary orbit, so that it remains on a fixed point of the planet.

A time-lapsed video has been created using images taken by the Electro-L satellite’s 121 megapixel camera.  The video is composed of about 350 shots.

During the video, the reflection of the sun can be seen grazing across the water as the Earth goes from morning, to afternoon, and into nightfall.

Clouds slowly move across the blue ball, giving scientists ample data to determine what weather patterns are developing.