What home looks like from 22,236 miles away

By Tom Yulsman | February 16, 2016 11:42 am

A new and improved portrait of the home planet, photographed by the Himawari-8 weather satellite in geostationary orbit

True-color image of Earth from the Himawari-8 satellite in geostationary orbit. (Source: NOAA/JMA)

True-color image of Earth from the Himawari-8 satellite in geostationary orbit. (Source: NOAA/JMA)

I don’t know about you, but I never tire of high-resolution images like this one from the Himawari-8 satellite showing the entire disk of our home planet.

It’s a new and improved version of a now-familiar view. So make sure to click on the image to open it in a new window. And then click on it again to zoom in.

This true-color portrait of Earth was photographed by Himawari-8, operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency, on February 10, 2016. The lovely, natural rendering was made possible by a new processing method called the Simple Hybrid Contrast Stretch (SHCS), developed by the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center and NOAA.

The advanced imager on Himawari-8 can view Earth in more than just visible light. Sensitive to 16 different wavelengths overall, the Advanced Himawari Imager also operates in the near-infrared and infrared parts of the spectrum.

For visible imagery, the AHI has a resolution of 500 meters. If I’ve done my math correctly, that means it can resolve features as small as about five typical city blocks.

If that doesn’t sound terribly impressive to you, consider that the resolution of the imagers on the current GOES weather satellites, which are operated by NOAA and cover the United States, is 1 kilometer. So Himawari-8 is a huge improvement.

It also gives us a preview of what we’ll be getting from NOAA’s GOES-R satellite, which is scheduled for launch in October 2016. Like Himawari-8, its resolution in the visible end of the spectrum is as fine as 500 meters.

SEE ALSO: Here’s the powerful storm that a Royal Caribbean cruise ship literally blundered into — as seen from space

I included the link above because that story highlights another advantage that GOES-R will have once it comes online: It will be capable of returning one image of the Earth every minute, as opposed to every 15 minutes for the current GOES-13 and GOES-15 satellites, and every 10 minutes for Himawari-8.

Already, though, Himawari-8 gives us views of Earth more stunning than we’ve had before, as the image at the top of this post shows. And when its images are strung together in animations, the result is a breathtaking sensation of a living, breathing planet. For a sense of that, make sure to watch the video above.

GOES-R will be even more breathtaking. As an unapologetic weather and remote-sensing geek, I can’t wait.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Remote Sensing, select, Top Posts, Weather
  • OWilson

    Breathtaking, and in real color too! Just as we would see it.

    Sorta makes man’s mostly political and religious differences fade into context and perspective.

    • Tom Yulsman

      My thoughts precisely. And even better is coming in October: GOES-R.

  • SuperC-whizard Asianya

    Awesome rendering! Hello guy… discover the proven system that can turn a one time investment of $18 to $1000 in 4 weeks! Awesome right? Just like the planet 😛 reach me on my cell or Whatsapp +233236897707 to find out more on this business. Visit http://www.team4corners.com and contact me for more details on how to proceed if after visiting the site, and is interested. Cheers.

  • ayesha

    Is earth really round in shape as shown in the picture above?



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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