NASA has released a huge number of high-resolution pictures of our planet earth at visibleearth.nasa.gov, which are, of course, free from copyright restriction of any kind, NASA being a government agency. Want a photo of our big blue marble planet? Check. Want to download infrared (IR) imagery of various parts of the earth? Check. Want to look at foliage, sea levels, or some other geological feature? Check.
They’re even using torrents (BT) to distribute high resolution photos of certain parts of the earth. Personally, I’ve never seen a 86400 x 43200 photo before, and one 1/4 of each dimension, or 1/16 smaller took 10 minutes to open in Photoshop with a gig and a half of RAM and a server scratch drive with a 16MB buffer. I’m glad they’re not using Apache to serve 2.9GB photos!
Very recently, NASA also put out this gorgeous picture of the southern lights, or aurora australis, as their IMAGE satellite circled the earth on September 11, 2005 after an unusually high burst of solar flare radiation:
The colored lights are the result of high-energy particles reacting with the earth’s magnetic shield.
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