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NASA brings its many cameras back down on Earth, gifts us with world's greatest coffee-table book

By Adam Pockross
Water NASA Earth Science Division

Nobody takes more breathtaking photos than NASA, and in case you need any further awe-inspiring proof, they’re offering you a photo book of Earth, with glimpses of our pale blue dot from the many picture-taking tools the space agency has to pull from.

Located somewhere “at an intersection of science and art,” NASA is proud to present Earth, a “photo-essay” from its Earth Science Division, which pulls jaw-dropping pics credited to the likes of NASA Earth Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA Landsat Program, International Space Station (ISS) Crew Earth Observations Facility, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP), NASA Ocean Biology Processing Group, and more properly acronymed super-scientist teams. 

A satellite view of Earth might make you think we’re dealing with the vastness of our 4.5-billion-year-old planet, and in some cases, the book — grouped into imagery from four distinct categories: atmosphere, water, land, and ice and snow — offers precisely that, going full-on macro in its presentation of the jet stream, giant storms, and continental swaths of land. But the book also shines its glorious eye on the micro — the mountain stream as opposed to the jet stream, and impressively so, considering they’re shooting from space.

Check out a few of the mesmerizing photos in the gallery below!

Most of all, though, as noted by Earth Observatory Managing Editor Michael Carlowicz in the book's foreword, they wanted to “look at Earth as a system, examining the cycles and processes — the water cycle, the carbon cycle, ocean circulation, the movement of heat — that interact and influence each other in a complex, dynamic dance across seasons and decades.”

So yeah, you know, nothing too ambitious. 

You can best every coffee-table book you’ve got in your collection and order a hardcover copy for $53, or enjoy Earth for free in PDF, MOBI (Kindle), or ePub formats. There’s also an interactive online version.