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:
- The full Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar
- Door 1 for Dec. 1: Shuttle in spotlight
- Door 2 for Dec. 2: 'Alien' lake seen from space
- Door 3 for Dec. 3: Egypt's river of light
- Door 4 for Dec. 4: Tallest building reaches for the sky
- Door 5 for Dec. 5: Russia's dazzling delta
- Door 6 for Dec. 6: Space skipper vs. the world
- Door 7 for Dec. 7: Pearl Harbor from the heavens
- Door 8 for Dec. 8: Listening for E.T.
- Door 9 for Dec. 9: Blast from the past
- Door 10 for Dec. 10: Volcano caught in the act
- Door 11 for Dec. 11: Chronicling climate change
- Door 12 for Dec. 12: Happy St. Lucy's Day
- Door 13 for Dec. 13: Viva Las Vegas
- Door 14 for Dec. 14: Don't wake the volcanoes
- Door 15 for Dec. 15: Stairways to heaven
- Door 16 for Dec. 16: White Christmas in the Midwest
- Door 17 for Dec. 17: Tracks in the sky
- Door 18 for Dec. 18: Amelia Earhart's final resting place?
- Door 19 for Dec. 19: Lunar eclipse as seen from space
- Door 20 for Dec. 20: Our pale blue dot
- Door 21 for Dec. 21: Celebrate the longest night
- Door 22 for Dec. 22: Wild West Africa
- Door 23 for Dec. 23: Holy Land from on high
- Door 24 for Dec. 24: From the moon to the earth
- The Big Picture at Boston.com: Hubble Advent calendar
- Planetary Society: Solar system Advent calendar
- Zooniverse Advent calendar
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