Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Date:18 July 2012 Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland is the world’s most protected marine area – one of its natural wonders and a World Heritage site. Spanning more than 2 000 km and covering an area of some 350 000 km², it is the largest living structure on Earth and the only one visible from space. This image was acquired by Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) at a resolution of 300 metres. Image credit: European Space Agency

Launched in 2002, the European Space Agency’s Envisat Earth observation satellite is the largest Earth observation spacecraft ever built. Envisat is now retiring after 10 magnificent years – double its planned mission lifetime.

In this wallpaper collection, we feature a very small sample of the formidably large collection of images captured by the eight-ton satellite – equipped with 10 sophisticated optical and radar instruments – in more than 50 000 orbits, together with images from ESA’s so-called “Third Party” missions. Envisat has contributed immeasurably to our knowledge of Earth, its weather patterns, oceans, atmosphere, environmental challenges and myriad other processes.