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Holiday calendar: Peace on Earth

Since the beginning of the month, our Advent calendar has presented pictures of Earth from space going back more than four decades — but today's offering is as fresh as fallen snow on Christmas morning. In fact, it's a picture of our blue planet that incorporates image data from this morning.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites — also known as the GOES satellites — monitor weather phenomena continuously from a 22,300-mile orbit. Infrared and visible-light images of weather systems are overlaid on a full-color "Blue Marble" picture of Earth to produce the kind of view you see above. The detailed GOES imagery is used by meteorologists to figure out, for example, how bad the next winter storm will get. You can check out the latest GOES pictures on NASA's project website, and learn more about the GOES system as well.

Back in 1968, the "Earthrise" picture served as a reminder of Earth's beauty and fragility. Today, near-real-time Earth images such as this one remind us that the legions of satellites in outer space bring good things to all of us here on this good Earth. May the new year bring us still more good things, from Earth and from space.

Click on the links below for a recap of this year's Cosmic Log Advent Calendar, plus other Advent calendar offerings with space themes:

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