NASA has released a breath-taking high-definition image of our fair planet from space. The 64-megapixel image was captured by the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP. According to NASA, the image is a a composite that uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012.
This isn't the first time NASA has released a high-resolution image of the Earth as seen from space. The first (and arguably most famous) was taken by Apollo 17 and is known as the Blue Marble photo. NASA has released several photos along the same vein since then, including Blue Marble 2002, which many will recognize as the oh-so-familiar iPhone lock image.
[UPDATE] For those that want to compare 2012's Blue Marble with the Blue Marble imagery produced in 1972, and 2002, you might want to check out NASA's History of the Blue Marble. This also includes more information (and examples) from NASA's Blue Marble: Next Generation project. This took place in 2006 and, similar to the other Blue Marble images, is a mosaic of satellite data taken mostly from a NASA sensor called the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) that flies board NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. However, while the older Blue Marble was a composite of four months of MODIS observations with a spatial resolution of 1 square kilometer per pixel, Blue Marble: Next Generation offers a year’s worth of monthly composites at a spatial resolution of 500 meters. This means you can see the vegetation flaring up and dying off with the change of the seasons, dry and wet seasons in the tropics, and advancing and retreating Northern Hemisphere snow cover. For more on Blue Marble: Next Generation, click here.