Earth through different eyes
15 September 2017
In the 1960s, photographs of Earth taken by the first astronauts captured the imaginations of people across the world. The pictures not only became icons for space exploration, but also the fragility of our planet. But astronauts were not the only ones with their eyes on Earth.
Satellites flying hundreds of kilometres above our heads continually capture images of our planet and deliver a wealth of data on our environment. In fact, satellite imagery of Earth pre-dates astronaut photos.
"We take many photos to share our experience in space with people on Earth and observe our planet from a unique angle, but our primary goal is running experiments and keeping the Space Station running," says ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, who is currently on his third mission to the International Space Station.
"While the pictures we take have some scientific value, these are more for informational or educational purposes. Satellites have more diverse and capable instruments than the one we have on the Space Station and are able to make constant, repetitive observations providing accurate historical scientific data."
Satellite images show the world through a wide-enough frame so that large-scale features can be observed. In addition, satellites offer frequent visits to monitor changes happening to our planet.