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NASA satellite captures world's largest panorama

NASA's Landsat has captured a 9000-kilometre swathe of land in an unbroken panorama.

The strip of Earth captured in the panorama.
(Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

NASA's Landsat has captured a 9000-kilometre swathe of land in an unbroken panorama.

On a planet that's made up of over 70 per cent water, having a satellite capture a strip of land of any great length is something of a challenge. However, that's exactly what NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite has done. In a continuous panorama from Russia to South Africa, it has captured a 9000-kilometre swathe of nearly unbroken land (there's a little bit of the Red Sea in there, too).

Flying at an altitude of 705 kilometres above the Earth and at a speed of 27,000 kilometres per hour, LDCM managed to cover the distance in 20 minutes on 13 April, taking photographs with its Operational Land Imager as it went. The 56 images were then stitched together in a seamless 185km wide, 9000km long panorama, called "The Long Swath".

NASA slightly increased the speed when creating a video of the images, so, in all, it only takes about 15 minutes (imagine if you could do that in an aeroplane). The result is a view of what it would be like to be watching the Earth fly by below if you were a passenger on the LDCM.

You can browse the panorama at your leisure in full resolution above, or just watch it unfurl before you in the video below.

Via earthobservatory.nasa.gov