NASA has just released this mind-blowing photograph Earth, which was captured earlier this month by the Agency's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite, Suomi NPP.

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And it turns out there's a very good reason NASA can call this "the most amazing high-definition picture of Earth ever taken" — this photo, gorgeous as it is, is actually too beautiful to be real. That's right: this photo is a big fat phony. Sort of.

Alright, so it's not totally fake, but technically speaking it is a composite image [click here to download the 8000 x 8000 pixel version. Yes you read that correctly — this image is HUGE]. The camera on board Suomi NPP can only photograph small sections of Earth at a time, so the image you see here is actually something of a mosaic — a patchwork piece that collects photos taken from Suomi NPP over the course of January 4, 2012 and stitches them together.

Of course, when I say that Suomi photographs "small sections" of the Earth's surface, what I mean is that they're smaller than an absurdly hi-res photo of the entire planet; in actuality, they're still mind-numbingly enormous — like the true-color image of the Southeastern United States featured here.

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[Via NASA]