The Blue Marble is arguably one of the most famous photographs of all time, and it makes perfect sense to use this beloved image as a test for a powerful new climate modeling program in one of the most powerful computers in the world. I’m here.
Researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Meteorological Institute (MPI-M) set out to reconstruct the iconic image using only 1972 climate simulations and weather data.and around earthBut also to bring that day in 1972 (or at least its weather patterns) to life.
“Unlike the superficial beauty of the sun’s light reflected from our Earth into the lenses of an astronaut’s camera, our Blue Marbles are bound by the laws of physics to bring life and movement. ” wrote an MPI-M official. statement (opens in new tab).
Related: The First Photographs of All Earth: 50 Years Later, The Blue Marble Still Inspires
As Apollo 17 When the rocket left Earth, the astronauts in the crew capsule looked out and saw the fully lit Earth, taking pictures before continuing their work. As it was one of many, it’s unclear who took the photo, but it was a stunning sight of our planet, the beautiful “Blue Marble”, alone against the backdrop of the void of space. , became an evocative image to supercharge the newborn. environmental movement.
No wonder scientists trying to validate one of the world’s most advanced climate models have chosen to try to reproduce incredibly recognizable images.
Researchers took weather data for December 1972 and fed it into a computer model to handle hundreds of interacting climate variables. From two days before December 7th, The day Apollo 17 was launched When the Blue Marble picture was taken, simulations recreated the weather conditions that produced the cloud cover and weather system that the Apollo astronauts saw when they arrived on Earth on their rockets. Moon.
“We were essentially 50 years late, so we were making a two-day forecast of the images our astronauts would take,” the agency wrote in a statement.
The incredible accuracy of the reconstructed images, down to the detailed curls and swirls of clouds in Africa, is a remarkable achievement of climate modeling. real visualization.
However, the simulation generated more than just one photo. It recreated a living simulation of the climate that the Apollo 17 astronauts would have felt as they geared up for the last manned lunar mission ever attempted. Also, the simulation incorporates not only the atmosphere, but also the ocean.
“Simulations allow us to dive deep to study subsurface vortices or rise in convection following the sun’s march across the surface,” the agency wrote in a statement.
MPI-M also produced a video of the actual climate model, revealing how the iconic photo was formed.