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MODIS Impressions

by Michael Keller

At first glance, these pictures might seem to be the brushstrokes of 19th century artists Claude Monet or Camille Pissarro. But, if we look just right, Earth can produce works of at least equal measure. 

While perusing NASA imagery, a picture taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite stood out. All three pictures above are derived from a single scene covering the Sea of Okhotsk, part of the western Pacific Ocean that forms a portion of Russia’s eastern coastline.

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by Michael Keller

There are a number of references that might come to mind when looking at these gifs: Starry Night, a shaken snow globe, the atmosphere of another planet or, perhaps for those of a certain age, Biz Markie’s Vapors.

While these are all fine images to conjure up, the animations here all come from a film made around 1947 to show how scientists make snow in a lab. It was part of research called Project Cirrus that was undertaken by GE and the U.S. government to see if people could weaken the destructive power of hurricanes. Though the project failed, weather researchers learned much about tropical cyclones.

Click on the gifs for a brief description or watch the full video posted by the Museum of Innovation and Science.

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