Earth Day, marked annually on April 22, exists primarily to inspire the global population to work together to protect our planet from environmental harm. But it’s also a chance to celebrate everything that’s special about this unique and wonderful “blue marble.” With that in mind, take a moment to lose yourself in this collection of awe-inspiring Earth images, all of them shot from space.
Hubble snaps an image of a galaxy in our cosmic backyard
Every week, astronomers working with the Hubble Space Telescope share an image of space collected by the telescope. This week, the Hubble image is of a nearby galaxy called LEDA 48062, located just 30 million light-years away from our own galaxy -- making it practically next door in cosmic terms.
The galaxy was observed as part of a project called Every Known Nearby Galaxy, which aims to use Hubble to study every galaxy within 10 megaparsecs (33 million light-years) of the Milky Way. "By getting to know our galactic neighbors, astronomers can determine what types of stars reside in various galaxies and also map out the local structure of the universe," Hubble scientists write.
South Korean lunar orbiter takes gorgeous images of Earth
The moon is so hot this year, with current or future lunar missions planned from the U.S., Russia, UAE and Japan, and India. And there's also South Korea, which launched its first lunar mission in August 2022. The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) arrived in lunar orbit in December 2022, and it recently sent back a couple of stunning images of Earth as seen from the moon.
Our galactic companion, the Small Magellanic Cloud, sparkles in Hubble image
Each week researchers from the Hubble Space Telescope share an image they have captured of a particular object or region in space. This week's Hubble image shows the Small Magellanic Cloud, or SMC, which is a satellite galaxy to our Milky Way.
The SMC is tiny compared to our galaxy, at just 7,000 light-years across compared to the approximately 100,000 light-years of the Milky Way, making it a type called a dwarf galaxy. It is also one of our nearest neighbors and a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, meaning it is gravitationally bound to our galaxy. It can be seen with the naked eye, along with its companion the Large Magellanic Cloud, mostly visible from the southern hemisphere.