Welcome to the new age of weather satellites. GOES-16, a joint NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration project, is set to track everything from solar flares to hurricanes and it will do so with a high-tech camera on board. That camera is responsible for an impressive new view of Earth.
The image, released by NASA and the NOAA on Monday, gives us a crisp view of North and South America and the swirling patterns of cloud cover that reach across the continents and oceans. GOES-16 snapped the image on January 15, making it one of the satellite's first views of our planet.
One of NOAA's scientists compared the Earth views to seeing a newborn baby's first pictures. To see how far technology has come, compare the level of detail in the GOES-16 image to the famous Blue Marble image taken during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
GOES-16 (renamed from GOES-R) launched in November 2016. NOAA says it will lead "to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings." It will also lead to more beautiful and fascinating images of our home planet.