NASA Releases Image of Earth in Stunning HD

While the general shape and layout of Earth has been known for centuries, images of our planetary home still hold the power to mesmerize even today -- but chances are, you've never seen it quite like this. Recently, NASA's newly-launched satellite, Suomi NPP, beamed back what may be the most amazingly detailed photograph of Earth ever captured, offering a stunning reminder of our world's extraordinary beauty in high-definition.

Click here to see the image enlarged.

Set in orbit some 500 miles overhead, Suomi NPP was commissioned as an environmental observation satellite outfitted with a powerful imaging device called the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIISR), capable of producing HD images with a resolution of roughly 1 mile per pixel. After a series of passes over our planet earlier this month, the satellite returned photos that were later compiled into the crystal-clear shot seen above, NASA calls 'Blue Marble 2012.

The satellite responsible for the photo, originally known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (NPP), was recently renamed in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi, a scientist NASA calls "the father of satellite meteorology."

In 1972, NASA's iconic 'Blue Marble' photograph helped spur the environmental movement when it was released, serving as a humbling reminder of Earth's fragility -- and in turn the fragility of existence for everything that inhabits it. Likewise, as technological advances allow for a clearer look back on our planet, that realization only becomes clearer as well.

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