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Video: Our living planet from space

“That’s the Earth, breathing every single day, changing with the seasons, responding to the sun, to the changing winds, ocean currents and temperatures.”

So far, among the thousands of planets we’ve discovered orbiting distant stars, Earth is the only world we know with life. Since the fall of 1997, NASA satellites have continuously and globally observed all plant life at the surface of the land and ocean. NASA said of this video:

NASA satellites can see our living Earth breathe.

In the Northern Hemisphere, ecosystems wake up in the spring, taking in carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen as they sprout leaves — and a fleet of Earth-observing satellites tracks the spread of the newly green vegetation.

Meanwhile, in the oceans, microscopic plants drift through the sunlit surface waters and bloom into billions of carbon dioxide-absorbing organisms — and light-detecting instruments on satellites map the swirls of their color.

This fall marks 20 years since NASA has continuously observed not just the physical properties of our planet, but the one thing that makes Earth unique among the thousands of other worlds we’ve discovered: Life.

Read more from NASA about the satellite observations that went into making this video.

Deborah Byrd

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