In the words of Carl Sagan, "The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena." But to us, it's everything. The place where we live, love, work and play. The place where we are born and where we die. From space, Earth is big, blue and beautiful; fragile and inspiring. It's the only planet we've ever been to. In honor of Earth Day, take a moment to enjoy some spectacular images of our home, available for download, in our gallery below. And take a moment to appreciate the only home we've ever known.
LATEST IMAGE: Night lights, big cities
This map shows the bright lights of cities and wildfires set against the inky black backdrop of night. The image is actually a composite of satellite data collected over a number of days in April 2012 and October 2012, and is the result of 312 orbits and 2.5 TB of information. The lights seen here are not just from cities; they are also from wildifires, lightning, gas flares and reflected moonlight. Because the image is a composite of several days’ worth of data, fires and other points of light may have been picked up by the satellite and integrated into the composite image even though they were temporary, making some rural locations (such as in Australia) seem brighter than they really are on a typical day.