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The public voted. These are some of NASA's all-time best photos of Earth.

Mashable 30 Apr 2020 05:37

NASA asked. 56,000 votes decided. 

In honor of Earth Day's 50th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of NASA's Earth Observatory, the space agency invited the public to vote on the best pictures that capture our beautiful planet in the Earth Observatory’s collection. (The Earth Observatory is a publishing outlet where NASA shares images and other discoveries that come from its research.)

After five rounds of voting, the winner of Tournament Earth was announced on April 28. 

The winning photo, taken in 2001 by Serge Andrefouet, a remote sensing specialist at the University of South Florida, captures sand and seaweed in the Bahamas using the Landsat 7 satellite. Tides and ocean currents created the patterns you can see in the image. 

Check out the winner (and some of the other finalists) below. 

WINNER! This year's winning image was also a runner-up in the 10th anniversary contest.

WINNER! This year's winning image was also a runner-up in the 10th anniversary contest.

Image: nasa

RUNNER-UP: Astronauts captured a volcanic plume in the Raikoke Volcano, a volcano on the Kuril Islands that doesn't often erupt.

RUNNER-UP: Astronauts captured a volcanic plume in the Raikoke Volcano, a volcano on the Kuril Islands that doesn't often erupt.

FINAL ROUND: This image, a combination of art and scientific imaging, was made using data from satellite missions, with graphic artists creating layers of global data for things like land surface and sea ice layers.

FINAL ROUND: This image, a combination of art and scientific imaging, was made using data from satellite missions, with graphic artists creating layers of global data for things like land surface and sea ice layers.

Image: nasa

THIRD ROUND: This, of course, isn't a picture of Earth at all. It's an image of Saturn taken from the Cassini spacecraft, but Earth Observatory liked it enough to include it. (Technically, you can see Earth in the upper left quadrant of Saturn's rings.)

THIRD ROUND: This, of course, isn't a picture of Earth at all. It's an image of Saturn taken from the Cassini spacecraft, but Earth Observatory liked it enough to include it. (Technically, you can see Earth in the upper left quadrant of Saturn's rings.)

Image: NASA

THIRD ROUND: Astronauts took a picture with a digital camera of Atafu Atoll, the smallest of three atolls and one island making up the Tokelau Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. (Atafu Atoll is about eight kilometers wide!)

THIRD ROUND: Astronauts took a picture with a digital camera of Atafu Atoll, the smallest of three atolls and one island making up the Tokelau Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. (Atafu Atoll is about eight kilometers wide!)

Image: NASA

The image here captures the melting ice cap on Eagle Island in Antarctica as it hit its hottest temperature on record this February.

The image here captures the melting ice cap on Eagle Island in Antarctica as it hit its hottest temperature on record this February.

Image: nasa

With a new instrument available on the International Space Station since 2014, scientists now hope to observe some of the 4.3 million lightning flashes that occur daily. Here are just some of them.

With a new instrument available on the International Space Station since 2014, scientists now hope to observe some of the 4.3 million lightning flashes that occur daily. Here are just some of them.

Image: nasa

This image is a visualization of the solid particles and liquid droplets (called aerosols) found in ecosystems around the world on just one day: August 23, 2018.

This image is a visualization of the solid particles and liquid droplets (called aerosols) found in ecosystems around the world on just one day: August 23, 2018.

Image: nasa

A tried and true favorite, this iconic 1968 photo was taken by the Apollo 8 crew while orbiting the Moon.

A tried and true favorite, this iconic 1968 photo was taken by the Apollo 8 crew while orbiting the Moon.

Image: nasa

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Earth ObservatoryNASASerge AndrefouetUniversity of South FloridaBahamas