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Russian weather satellite gives stunning view of Earth

May 15, 2012|By Thomas H. Maugh II
  • The Earth as viewed by the Russian weather satellite Elektro-L.
The Earth as viewed by the Russian weather satellite Elektro-L. (Russian Federal Space Agency…)

This stunning image of the Earth, claimed to be the highest-resolution image of the planet taken from space, was produced by the Russian weather satellite Elektro-L.

The camera on board the satellite has a reported resolution of 121 megapixels, about 15 times the number in an iPhone. The image was produced by overlaying images taken at three wavelengths of visible light and one in the infrared, producing the color spectrum observed. The infrared image shows vegetation, which appears orange.

NASA's images of Earth, in contrast, are produced by pasting together several smaller images.

Elektro-L, launched in January 2011, is Russia's most advanced weather satellite. It operates at an altitude of 22,500 miles, placing it in geosynchronous orbit. It is the first Russian weather satellite to operate in such an orbit. Before the launch of Elektro-L, Russian meteorologists had to rely on U.S. and European satellites for their weather data.

A time-lapse image of the Earth is available here.

LATimesScience@gmail.com

Twitter/@LATMaugh

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