It's strange that we can be blasé about space-imagery, our appetites glutted by a steady stream of "mesmerizing," "humbling," and "mindblowing" footage of our planet. It takes more than a view from the ISS to give us pause. So trust us when we say that this video is definitely worth the watch.
The video in question is a time-lapse of Earth as imaged by Elektro-L, the first Russian weather satellite to operate in geostationary orbit. While geostationary footage of Earth isn't exactly rare (though it's certainly less common, these days, than time-lapses of Earth shot from the ISS), it's the first time we've seen it presented at this level of detail, in 4K resolution. Writes James Tyrwhitt-Drake, who processed the image data and uploaded the video to YouTube:
Elektro-L is located ~40,000 km above the Indian ocean, and it orbits at a speed that causes it to remain over the same spot as the Earth rotates. The satellite creates a 121 megapixel image (11136x11136 pixels) every 30 minutes with visible and infrared light wavelengths. The images were edited to adjust levels and change the infrared channel from orange to green to show vegetation more naturally. The images were resized by 50%, misalignments between frames were manually corrected, and image artifacts that occurred when the camera was facing towards the sun were partially corrected. The images were interpolated by a factor of 20 to create a smooth animation. The animation was rendered in the Youtube 4K UHD resolution of 3840x2160. An original animation file with a resolution of (5568x5568) is available on request.
To answer frequently asked questions; why are city lights, the Sun, and other stars not visible? City lights are not visible because they are thousands of times less bright than the reflection of sunlight off the Earth. If the camera was sensitive enough to detect city lights, the Earth would be overexposed. The Sun is not visible due to mechanisms used to protect the camera CCD from direct exposure to sunlight. A circular mask on the CCD ensures that only the Earth is visible. This mask can be seen as pixelation on Earth's horizon. The mask also excludes stars from view, although they would not be bright enough to be visible to this camera.
I'll say it: This video is gorgeous. At full screen, at as high a resolution as your monitor can muster, it's like a four-minute vacation for your brain.
H/t Boing Boing