During a span of 40 years, since 1972, the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites has become a vital reference worldwide for understanding scientific issues related to land use and natural resources.
Beyond the scientific information they supply, some Landsat images are simply striking to look at, presenting spectacular views of mountains, valleys and islands, as well as forests, grasslands and agricultural patterns. By selecting certain features and colouring them from a digital palate, the US Geological Survey has created a series of ‘Earth as Art’ perspectives that demonstrate an artistic resonance in satellite land imagery and provide a special avenue of insight about the geography of each scene.
Nasa asked the public to vote on their favourite images from the more than 120 images in the online “Earth as Art” collection – and received over 14 000 votes.
This image of phytoplankton swirling in the water around Gotland, Sweden, taken by Landsat 7 came 1st. The image was acquired on 13 July 2005.
In the style of Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night”, massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. Population explosions, or blooms, of phytoplankton, like the one shown here, occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fuelling the growth and reproduction of these tiny plants.
Image credit: Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre/USGS