This 4K, Ultra-HD Time Lapse of Earth Will Blow You Away
There are countless timelapses of our planet out there on the internet, but this latest example from Elektro-L, Russia's first weather satellite in a geostationary orbit, is one you're going to need to watch. Shot from 40,000km above Earth, the video is 4 minutes of mind-bending beauty that you'll want to watch over and over again. The footage has been processed in Ultra-HD 4K resolution, which makes this one of the crispest views of Earth you will have ever seen.
From the video's official description:
"The satellite creates a 121 megapixel image (11136x11136 pixels) every 30 minutes with visible and infrared light wavelengths. 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. The animation was rendered in the Youtube 4K UHD resolution of 3840x2160. An original animation file with a resolution of (5568x5568) is available on request."
So, that's how they managed to get the images so beautifully crisp, but how did they manage to keep the Earth in exactly the same place? Elektra-L's geostationary orbit means that it is perfectly matching the speed of Earth's rotation, allowing it to fix itself above the same area of Earth at all times. In this case, we see the Indian Ocean with areas of the Asian sub-continent, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa all clearly visible.
You've now probably got two more questions on the tip of your tongue.
1. Where is the sun?
2. Why can't I see the city lights?
Luckily for you, the man who put this imagery together, James Tyrwhitt-Blake has an answer ready and waiting:
"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. The Sun is not visible due to mechanisms used to protect the camera CCD from direct exposure to sunlight. A circular mask on the CCD ensures that only the Earth is visible. This mask can be seen as pixelation on Earth's horizon. The mask also excludes stars from view, although they would not be bright enough to be visible to this camera."