Time Lapse of NASA Infrared Images of Earth Shows Fluid Motion of Water Vapor
The internet is filled with gorgeous images of Earth from space, but in this new time-lapse video, creator James Tyrwhitt-Drake endeavored to create something different. Using NASA images from two different satellites, he created an animation of the Earth in infrared, which makes our planet look like nothing more than a bundle of swirling water vapor:
According to Tyrwhitt-Drake's official description, the video represents "a time lapse of planet Earth in infrared light, showing the fluid motion of water vapor in the atmosphere." In order to create the time lapse, he used images from NASA satellites GOES-15 (also called GOES West) and GOES-13 (East). GOES West is on the left, and mostly covers the Pacific Ocean, while GOES East is on the right and shows views of North and South America. The side-by-side animations are synchronized and play at a speed of 21 hours/second spanning the time period of November 30th, 2014, to January 26th, 2015.
Infrared generally shows images to be redder than our eyes perceive them, with warm objects glowing bright and cooler objects showing up dark. But since water vapor is opaque to this wavelength, it prevents any light from reaching the satellites. So although it looks like the gray-white areas are water vapor, the vapor is actually represented by the dark spots. So the video still shows the fluid motion of the vapor, just not in the way you might expect.