On a blue-sky day, it’s easy to look up into the far-reaching atmosphere and marvel at the wonders that it holds — and not even realize that anything is staring back at you. But in reality, fleets of satellites and aerospace hardware are orbiting the Earth every minute — tracking weather, serving up data, and most importantly, gazing upon the world. Much of the data goes to NASA initiatives and research projects, but lately the government agency has found a new benefit of the captured footage: its sheer beauty.
NASA took some of the most profound, sweeping, gorgeous images from its skyward devices in 2012 and compiled it into a supercut of the Earth’s beauty, as seen from above. The video features clips taken from the International Space Station and myriad satellites in orbit, showing unprecedented views of the entire globe, from Antarctica to the Sahara Desert, and highlighting some of the major natural disasters of the past year, including wildfires gripping the Western U.S. and Hurricane Sandy slamming into the East Coast.
It’s all beautifully haunting, offering up a distinctly different outlook on the world. For every photo we see in a newspaper or online, it’s just a small reminder that satellites in the sky see the world in a very different light.