This spectacular Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) “blue marble” image is based on the most detailed collection of true-color imagery of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. Most of the information contained in this image came from MODIS, illustrating MODIS outstanding capacity to act as an integrated tool for observing a variety of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric features of the Earth.
The land and coastal ocean portions of this image is based on surface observations collected from June through September 2001 and combined, or composited, every eight days to compensate for clouds that might block the satellites view on any single day. Global ocean color (or chlorophyll) data was used to simulate the ocean surface. MODIS doesnt measure 3-D features of the Earth, so the surface observations were draped over topographic data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey EROS Data Center. MODIS observations of polar sea ice were combined with observations of Antarctica made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations AVHRR sensorthe Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer. The cloud image is a composite of two days of MODIS imagery collected in visible light wavelengths and a third day of thermal infra-red imagery over the poles.
A large collection of imagery based on the blue marble in a variety of sizes and formats, including animations and the full (1 km) resolution imagery, is available at the Blue Marble page.
Image by Reto Stöckli, Render by Robert Simmon. Based on data from the MODIS Science Team