NASA has a new social media campaign to gear up its audience for Earth Day, an annual event to celebrate our planet – and the importance of protecting the environment – on Monday (April 22).
Social media users on Instagram, Twitter and the NASA Earth Facebook event page can post a close-up photo of their favorite natural features on our home planet. This could include "ancient trees, blooming flowers, or stunning sunsets," NASA officials said in a statement. Be sure to use the hashtag #PictureEarth and explain where the photo was taken — and to upload your photo on April 22 to qualify.
NASA plans to showcase these photos in videos and composite images that the agency will share on social media after Earth Day.
"NASA satellites and airborne instruments picture Earth every day to increase our knowledge of our home and improve lives," the agency said in a statement. "These images, shared with scientists and the public worldwide, may use visible light, like a photographer's camera, or peer into infrared, microwave and radio wavelengths that are invisible to human eyes."
Shortly after Earth Day, NASA will add yet another Earth-observing satellite to its growing fleet. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 will launch to the International Space Station with a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft on April 26, if all goes to schedule. This mission will measure carbon dioxide from space, a key gas implicated in global climate change. (The mission was almost canceled due to a 2017 Trump budget request, although it was later reinstated.)
The first Earth Day took place in 1970, less than 18 months after Apollo 8 astronauts took full-color pictures of the Earth rising above the moon. It was the first time human eyes saw our planet from so far away, and the photo is credited with helping spark the environmental movement. The first "Earthrise" image, however, was taken by NASA's robotic Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft in 1966, in black and white.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace