By Duncan Steel 11/03/2019

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The European Space Agency’s current Earth observation image of the week features New Zealand in all its glory.

Let us take it as read that NZ is a beautiful, breathtaking country. Myriad artistic renditions and simple tourist snaps bear witness to that, but it is also truly an amazing sight when seen from high above, by satellites in orbit. Although Europe is half the world away, it’s clear that staff with the European Space Agency (ESA) agree, with NZ being made the subject of this week’s Earth observation image of the week featuring a composite panorama made from data collected by the Sentinel-3A satellite in August last year.



And here it is the complete image:

New Zealand as it appeared on 2018 August 22 in imagery collected by the Sentinel-3A satellite passing about 820 km above: Courtesy ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.


A full-resolution image (2.6 MB JPEG, 3639 by 4961 pixels) can be obtained from the relevant ESA website, where a TIF (i.e. uncompressed) version is also available [103 MB] if you wish to pull out any part of the image and try some processing (though this TIF does not appear to be georeferenced; i.e. not a GeoTIFF).

The availability of this image was announced via a Tweet posted a few hours ago, providing a link to ESA’s Observing the Earth website. A 400-word text there succinctly describes the main features visible in the image, such as the Southern Alps, Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora), Tongariro National Park and Mount Egmont/Taranaki. The final sentence of that text says that “This image is also featured on the Earth from Space video programme.” Clicking on that link takes you to a 3 minute 30 second video in which the host describes the locations in NZ in a lovely-accented lilt, yet getting the Māori pronunciations more-or-less correct (at least to my less-than-proficient ear). You can also download with a click the movie file (30 MB, MP4) if you’d like to show it to others.

Previous ESA Earth from Space videos have concerned Weeping Taranaki (2014 October) and the South Island (2013 June); at the same times there were correlated issues of Space in Images covering Egmont National Park and New Zealand’s South Island. These three movies are also available on YouTube here, here and here. Other Space in Images issues concerning parts of NZ can be seen here, here, and here, though those are quite dated and there are many other satellite images available covering our corner of the South Pacific. If you’d like to see other Pacific islands in more detail, try the ESA movies covering Tonga, New Caledonia, Ambrym (Vanuatu), Viti Levu (Fiji)Henderson Island (Pitcairn) and Thurston Island (in the Antarctic). Plus, in Australia, clips about Lake Disappointment, the Gibson Desert, Lake Amadeus, the Kimberley, Western Australia, and the Wolfe Creek and Gosse’s Bluff  impact craters.

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