Observing the Earth: Photos by the European Space Agency

These satellite photos of various locations around the globe almost seem to beautiful to be real. While we usually marvel over NASA’s many incredible websites offering vivid, detailed imagery of far-flung settings, these ones were captured by the European Space Agency. The ‘Observing the Earth’ series takes us on a tour of Kilimanjaro, the hottest place on earth, the Sahara oasis, the Great Blue Hole and many more of our planet’s most astonishing treasures.


New images are added every week to a database numbering in the thousands, dating back to 2005. They’re taken by the European Remote Sensing satellites equipped with two radars and an infrared imaging sensor as well as other sensors that can measure ocean surface temperature and winds at sea.

That means these images are much more than just eye candy for the vast majority of humans who will never see the earth from this perspective. Each image represents a wealth of scientific data so researchers can observe changes over very short spaces of time. That info can then be used to predict the likelihood of natural disasters or keep tabs on climate change.

Click on any one location and you’ll find images (and occasionally animations!) as well as detailed descriptions of what you’re looking at. False color is sometimes used to make details sharper, as in the image above depicting the land around the Amazon River as bright red. Check out the whole series at ESA.int.

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