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US and Russia differ on Earth’s images

US: Same planet, same view, so why do these Russian satellite images of Earth look so different to NASA’s? This question has been put forth by a report published in DailyMail.co.uk. The report has published some of the images taken by Russian satellite Elektro-L and compared it with the images of NASA’s GOES satellite imagery.

Elektro-L sends images to ground control every 30 minutes, but is capable of mailing images every ten minutes. Launched in January aboard a Zenit rocket, it is currently 36,000 km above the equator. But while the Elektro-L’s revealing shots of Earth may appear more accurate than NASA images, the US space agency claims they are not, according to the report.

Dr Robert Simmon, from the NASA Earth Observatory at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said the Russian images are neither better nor worse than NASA’s. He said, “These Elektro-L images are a combination of visible and near-infrared wavelengths, so they show Earth in a way not visible to human eyes – vegetation looks red, for example. They are not any better or worse than NASA images, but they show different things.”

Elektro-L takes pictures using three bands in reflected light, one red and two near infrared bands, one of which is a ‘vegetation indicator’ as plants clearly reflect near infrared. This system can simulate a standard red/green/blue colour picture.

NASA’s equivalent GOES satellites, on the other hand, don’t have near infrared bands and capture images in black and white using multiple infrared wavelengths. These are then transferred into colour images, bringing red, green and blue together, by 3D technology. NASA’s method shows what the eye can actually see.

Source: www.dailymail.co.uk