Even though Ellen DeGeneres’s celebrity-packed group selfie was figuratively one of the largest tweets ever after receiving over 2.7 million retweets, a new photo from NASA might literally be the biggest selfie. Using more than 36,000 selfies submitted to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA has created an awe-inspiring, 3.2 gigapixel mosaic of Earth as seen from space.
The project began as a way to commemorate Earth Day, with the intention of encouraging people to become more environmentally aware.
NASA asked people all across the world for their selfies, and to include where on Earth the photo was being taken. Though the interactive mosaic only used 36,000 pictures, NASA received more than 50,000 responses. Selfies that had blue backgrounds were used to make oceans, white backgrounds for clouds, and brown backgrounds for continents.
“People on every continent—113 countries and regions in all—posted selfies,” reports NASA. “From Antarctica to Yemen, Greenland to Guatemala, Micronesia to the Maldives, Pakistan, Poland, Peru—and on.”
According to deputy director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters Peg Luce, NASA used the crowd-sourced imagery to help illustrate a unique aspect of the Earth.
“We were overwhelmed to see people participate from so many countries,” said Luce. “We’re very grateful that people took the time to celebrate our home planet together, and we look forward to everyone doing their part to be good stewards of our precious Earth.”
Although most people associate NASA with intrepid space exploration, the agency is focusing projects closer to home. Currently NASA is trying to launch five major new satellites whose attention will be aimed right at Earth. These new satellites will hopefully be in orbit by 2014’s end, which will be the most new sets of eyes on the third rock from the sun in a single year in over a decade.