The European Space Agency has released a stunning, and rare, photograph of the UK, Ireland, and Northern France taken from space, today.
Called “Green Islands,” the medium resolution image shows most of the UK (sorry Scotland), the Island of Ireland, Northern France, and some of the Netherlands in such detail that London, Paris, Belfast, and Dublin, along with other cities, are clearly visible.
Apart from the cities, the ESA points out that the image shows some changes occurring in the landscape. According to the ESA, the brown patches around the Thames and London are evidence of sediment collecting,
“The green and tan-tinted swirls in the seas and channels are due to sediments being transported in the water. Sediment is particularly concentrated around Britain’s south-eastern coast, carried by the River Thames through London and into the North Sea.”
The ESA used its Envisat satellites Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer to take the image nearly a year ago, on March 28 2012.
According to the ESA is was lucky to be able to record such a photograph as the British Isles are rarely so free of cloud cover. The Agency was especially lucky to record such a photograph as only 11 days after the picture was taken the ESA lost contact with the satellite, meaning an abrupt end to its 10 year mission in space.
However, that doesn’t mean that these will be the last high resolution images of Earth that we’ll see from the ESA. The space agency’s next generation Earth observing satellite, Sentinel 1, will be launched this year; five other Sentinel satellites will soon follow.
But before that happens have a look at the full scale image to see the level of detail the satellite recorded.
[Credits: Imagery and video by ESA]