This Is Planet Earth By Van Gogh—or Viceversa

Illustration for article titled This Is Planet Earth By Van Gogh—or Viceversa

"Van Gogh from space." That's how Rebecca Roth at NASA Goddard describes this stunning image, which looks like Starry Night. But these are not stars. It's right here, on planet Earth. So beautiful that it defies belief.

In the style of Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night," massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. Phytoplankton are microscopic marine plants that form the first link in nearly all ocean food chains. Population explosions, or blooms, of phytoplankton, like the one shown here, occur when deep currents bring nutrients up to sunlit surface waters, fueling the growth and reproduction of these tiny plants.

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I'm sure that Van Gogh would have cut his other ear if he saw this while floating in orbit. [NASA]

DISCUSSION

Looks shopped. I can tell from the phytoplankton, and from seeing quite a few phytoplankton in my time.

But really, that is freaking awesome. I thought it was a painting at first, had to re-read the first paragraph to make sure I didn't miss something. Those little phytoplankton are really what keep this planet alive. It's never a waste of money to want to clean up the ocean, we can always afford to do the planet some good.