• 05.23.14

NASA Helps Planet Earth Come Together For A “Global Selfie”

In honor of Earth Day, NASA invited people around the world to share selfies on social media. NASA then culled tens of thousands of images into a mosaic of our planet, dubbed a Global Selfie. Take that Ellen DeGeneres!

NASA Helps Planet Earth Come Together For A “Global Selfie”

Earth is ready for her close-up.


In honor of this year’s Earth Day, NASA invited people around the world to snap a selfie and share it on social media. NASA then culled tens of thousands of images into an amalgamated portrait of our planet, dubbed a Global Selfie.

NASA spent the last month building the mosaic from 36,422 individual photographs. More than 50,000 images from 113 countries and regions on every continent poured in–posted on or around the April 22 Earth Day on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and Flickr, with the tag #GlobalSelfie.

The result? A zoomable 3.2-gigapixel image that users can scan for individuals. (See lead image.) The video below features a handful of the submissions.

The project was designed to encourage environmental awareness and recognize the agency’s ongoing work to protect Earth. NASA’s 17 Earth-observing satellites as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns produce shared data that facilitates a clearer picture of Earth’s interconnected natural systems.

One of those instruments–the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite–provided the image template on which the GigaPan image of Earth was based. Suomi NPP, a NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration joint mission, collects data on long-term climate change and short-term weather.

For the first time in more than a decade, five NASA Earth Science missions are scheduled to launch in one year. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, a joint mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, launched in February. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 is set for July; the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission, for November; and two Earth science instruments–RapidScat and the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System–will deploy to the International Space Station.

“With the Global Selfie, NASA used crowd-sourced digital imagery to illustrate a different aspect of Earth than has been measured from satellites for decades: a mosaic of faces from around the globe,” said Peg Luce, deputy director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. “We were overwhelmed to see people participate from so many countries and look forward to everyone doing their part to be good stewards of our precious Earth.”


For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities in 2014, visit Earth Right Now.

About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio.