For Earth Day, NASA's 'Global Selfie' Campaign Seeks To Build Composite Image Of Our Ailing Planet

By Ben Wolford on April 22, 2014 4:04 PM EDT

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite took this picture of Earth on Earth Day, April 22, 2014. (Photo: NOAA)
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite took this picture of Earth on Earth Day, April 22, 2014. (Photo: NOAA)

For Earth Day, NASA is encouraging everyone on Earth (or at least the ones with cameras and internet connections) to take a picture of themselves and tag it, #GlobalSelfie. The goal, utlimately, is to build a tapestry of human diversity — an image of the globe constructed from the images of its inhabitants.

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"For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while also fostering a collection of portraits of the people of Earth," NASA announced. "Once those pictures stream around the world on Earth Day, the individual pictures tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth — a new 'Blue Marble' built bit by bit with your photos." Participants are supposed to go outside wherever they are and take a selfie with a natural background, along with an indication of where they are on a printout poster. NASA is distributing the poster in 22 languages.

At the same time, NASA posted a new photo of the Earth from space, taken by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite. It shows North and South America and the western edge of Africa. It appears pristine from space, but more scientists are warning of rising carbon levels, burning rainforests, more rapidly melting glaciers, and more extreme weather. To track these problems and others, the U.S. government, universities, and private science foundations have funded more technology and research expeditions around the world to track the signs and symptoms of a changing planet.

"Through the gradual build-up of more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, Earth is warming," NASA reports. "As Earth warms, ocean waters expand and ice melts to make sea levels rise. The cycle of rainfall and evaporation accelerates, leading to more severe droughts and more severe bouts of rainfall. Heat waves become more frequent and more intense."

In 2014, NASA will launch five Earth-observation missions, more than any year in more than a decade. These include efforts to better understand precipitation, carbon levels, soil moisture, clouds, and wind. "The space agency studies no planet more closely than our own," according to NASA.

So far, the hastags have trickled in from around the world (many of them are from NASA employees). Here are a few that we liked:


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