The Galileo spacecraft was launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis on October 18, 1989 on a six-year trip to Jupiter. On the way, the trajectory of the spacecraft took it past Venus once and Earth twice. Galileo took the Earth images in this animation just after the first flyby of the Earth, on December 11 and 12, 1990. This six-hour sequence of images taken two minutes apart clearly shows how the Earth looks from space and how fast (or slow) the cloud features change when looked at from a distance. The path of the sun can be seen crossing Australia by its reflection in the nearby ocean, and the terminator region between night and day can be seen moving across the Indian Ocean. In the original images, the Earths rotation is so dominant that cloud movement is hard to see, but these images have been mapped to the Earth is such a way that a viewer can watch just the clouds move in the ocean around Antarctica or across the Austrailian land mass. In this animation, New Zealand can ony be seen as a stationary disturbance under a moving cloud bank. The black area with the sharp boundary to the north and east of Australia is the side of the Earth that could not be seen from Galileos position.


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