The Russian Elektro-L weather satellite sits 25,000 miles above the Indian Ocean, where it creates an astonishing 121 megapixel image of the Earth every 30 minutes. James Tyrwhitt-Drake from the University of Victoria in Canada has used these images to create a 4K timelapse video of our planet, and the result is pretty hypnotic.
The Elektro-L satellite rotates at a speed that causes it to remain over exactly the same spot as the Earth rotates below. From its vantage point it creates a phenomenal 11,136 x 11,136 pixel image every 30 minutes. Using these images, Tyrwhitt-Drake embarked on some elaborate editing to create his gorgeous video: “The images were edited to adjust levels and change the infrared channel from orange to green to show vegetation more naturally. The images were resized by 50%, misalignments between frames were manually corrected, and image artifacts that occurred when the camera was facing towards the sun were partially corrected. The images were interpolated by a factor of 20 to create a smooth animation.”
As for the absence of city lights, Tyrwhitt-Drake explains “City lights are not visible because they are thousands of times less bright than the reflection of sunlight off the Earth. If the camera was sensitive enough to detect city lights, the Earth would be overexposed,” meanwhile the sunlight is blocked by mechanisms which protect the camera from direct exposure to sunlight. And the results show us four days of life on Earth like we’ve never seen it before.