Blue Marble Next Generation

The Blue Marble Next Generation (BMNG, 2005) is a cloud-free global satellite data set offering great spatial detail. It spans a longer data collection period than the original Blue Marble from 2000 and 2002. The original Blue Marble was a composite of four months of MODIS observations with a spatial resolution (level of detail) of 1 square kilometer per pixel. The Blue Marble Next Generation offers a year’s worth of monthly composites at a spatial resolution of 500 meters. These monthly images reveal seasonal changes to the land surface: the green-up and dying-back of vegetation in temperate regions such as North America and Europe, dry and wet seasons in the tropics, and advancing and retreating Northern Hemisphere snow cover.  Modified and shortened text from: http://bluemarble.nasa.gov

Space exploration changed our visual perception of planet Earth. In 1950s, satellites revolutionized weather forecasting when they began beaming home television images of cloud patterns. Astronaut photography in the early 1970s showed us the whole Earth“disk” for the first time in true-color – the so-called “Blue Marble”. Since 1972, satellite sensors have been acquiring atmosphere, land, ice and ocean data with increasing spectral, spatial and temporal resolution. Satellite remote sensing systems like NASAs Earth Observing System (EOS) help us to understand and monitor Earth’s physical, chemical, and biological processes.

One of our first false-color Earth images from back in the year 2000 is named the “Blue Marble”. That image was created for public outreach and it demonstrated the high value of such visualizations. New sensors like MODIS, aboard NASAs Terra and Aqua satellites, observe and measure a wide range of geophysical parameters. In 2002 we created a successor true-color Earth image using MODIS land, ocean, ice and atmosphere science products. This image has been widely used in museums, print media, TV documentaries, in movies, by mapping agencies, and in NASA’s public communications about its missions and research initiatives.

The success of the Blue Marble imagery motivated us to continue the project. The Blue Marble Next Generation (BMNG) is a cloud-free true-color dataset at 500-m spatial resolution and monthly temporal resolution. The BMNG aims at providing freely available data from the Earth surface in true color, derived from scientific data as a value-added product. Although the spatial resolution of the BMNG is comparable to other datasets, seasonal variations with monthly time-steps have not been shown before in seamless true-color composites. A visualization of seasonal variations (snowfall, droughts, wet seasons, spring greening, etc.) has good potential to enhance education. Furthermore, the BMNG can help to increase public understanding (and therefore acceptance) of satellite missions and awareness of causes and effects of changes in Earth’s climate system.

Visit the NASA’s official Blue Marble Next Generation Website: http://bluemarble.nasa.gov