1st Place: Van Gogh from Space

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/USGS

July 23, 2012 -- In 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite to monitor and record the global changes taking place on the planet. Today the Landsat team is celebrating 40 years of continuous observational power. As part of the celebrations, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey asked the public to vote on 120 images that the USGS selected and digitally colored. Here are the top five winners from their "Earth as Art" contest.

In 1st Place: Van Gogh from Space

The top photo above shows Sweden's Gotland Island in the Baltic Sea acquired by Landsat 7 on July 13, 2005.

"In the style of Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night," massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. Population explosions, or blooms, of phytoplankton, like the one shown here, occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the growth and reproduction of these tiny plants," reported NASA.

PHOTOS: Earth Perspectives Through the Ages

On Feb. 11, 2013, NASA will launch its eighth satellite in the fleet to join Landsat 5 and Landsat 7 currently still in orbit. Landsat 8 is a joint endeavor with the USGS and the satellite will carry into space equipment capable of monitoring Earth in the visible, near-infrared, short wave infrared and thermal infrared wavelengths, with a moderate-resolution of 15 to 100 meters.

-- by Christina Reed

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