These aren’t renderings, special effects, or a scene from No Man’s Sky. This is actual footage of the Earth and the Moon, as seen by Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft in October 2008. Shot with a pair of 2.2 megapixel HDTV sensors, it’s some of the first HD footage of our nearest neighbor that humans ever captured.
It’s hard to remember the beauty of winter when constantly shovelling walkways, scraping ice off cars, and tromping through freezing slush. That’s why it’s nice to get a view from above, far away from the chilly realities of the season.
All these rich greens usually mean vegetation, but this is an arid, salty land almost totally inhospitable to plants. Instead, those are the markers of a brine rich in minerals, concentrated as the water evaporates.
Our planet can be too beautiful to be plausible some days. This frozen lake in the Himalayas is shockingly deep blue set against the slightly-oxidized rusty landscape. And it’s completely real, photographed from the International Space Station.
Stop. Breathe. Bask in the blissful relaxation of sunset in Queen Valley. Feel better? Good.
Steeply-angled sunlight creates a muddled mystery of which terrain are mountains or valleys in this early-morning scene. Only snaking fog shrouding the river reveals the secrets of the inverted topography.
November 23, 2002: Fire scars cut through the green scrub to the orange dunes below in this view of the Simpson Desert, Australia.
Research cameras pointed at glaciers are inevitably bearers of depressing news, tracking the crumble of ice rotting over the years. Yet soft moonlight and misty mountains framing blue ice transform this datapoint into a moment of pure beauty.
Rio Paraná and Rio Paraguay are like spoiled kids refusing to shake and make up in this photo from the International Space Station, one clear blue and the other dark with orange sediments.
Four Storms on the Move | NASA’s GOES-West satellite captured this image of four tropical cyclones all at once in the Pacific Ocean. From left to right, there’s Typhoon Kilo, Hurricane Ignacio, Hurricane Jimena and Tropical Depression 14E.
These photographs of Yellowstone National Park by Dave Lane are so gorgeous it’s difficult to believe they’re from real life.
The Bahamas are simply gorgeous in this latest astronaut photograph from the International Space Station. The delicate ripples on the sandy ocean floor, gentle texture of muddy islands, and clean cuts of deeper ocean channels make this more of an idealized painting than real life.
How better to escape the summer heat than by gazing longingly at a frozen lake in the far north?
The many ergs of the Sahara Desert are a beautiful lesson in the shifting history of sand in the desert, and the shapes and scales of dunes
As spring approaches, even the northern reaches of Canada are melting up. Extensive rafts of sea and lake ice are shattering during the spring thaw, creating beautiful landscapes of broken glass glittering in the sun.
This is a tiny fragment of the Empty Quarter, a sand sea larger than France. Ar Rub' al Khali is an erg that stretches across four countries, covers most of the Arabian Peninsula, holds half as much sand as the larger Sahara Desert despite being 1/15th the size, and is absolutely gorgeous.
We live on a spectacular, bizarre, wonderful, weird, confusing, awe-inspiring planet. NASA’s Earth Day campaign sent me hunting for a few of the places that leave me delighted. Where are your favourite spots on this strange planet of ours?
These long, slender dunes are part of Erg Chech, a massive sand sea in Africa. The slightly sinuous ridges are catching the last rays of a setting sun, popping up above the shadowy sand valleys in an eye-twisting perspective puzzle.
A fossilized piece of the sea floor is a glimpse into an ecosystem long-gone, if only you know how to look at it. Read on to learn about the long-dead bryozoans, crinoids, brachiopods, gastropods, and even trilobites in this rock.