Definitive Image of Planet Earth

Hanging in space, our beautiful blue planet has never been seen more clearly. This is Planet Earth, seen from 36,000km above the surface, with the rich deep blues of the sea contrasting with the sharp outlines of land, as white clouds scurry across the skies. The image was taken by the Electro-L, Russia's latest weather satellite, and unlike other images of our planet, it was taken in one single shot, at a massive resolution of 121 megapixels. Most images by NASA and other agencies are taken by stitching many images together, so it is rare to find such a high-definition image of our beautiful planet in one single shot.

The blue oasis we call home: Earth is photographed with a high-definition 121megapixel camera - creating the sharpest image of our planet yet

The satellite captures this kind of stunning image every half-hour as it monitors our weather and, if strange weather phenomena is noted, the Russian operators can remotely command the satellite to take images every 10 minutes. The image, in which each pixel represents 1km, uses a combination of visible and near-infrared wavelengths, so that vegetation shows up in red, rather than the green you might expect.

Not that NASA cannot take beautiful shots too: These two composites are a 'true-colour' image of our blue marble

Electro-L sits in a geo-stationary orbit, which means its speed matches that of the Earth's rotation, making it remain 'motionless' above a fixed point of the planet. It launched in January 2011 and has been meaning down these stunning images ever since.

The images of Electro-L have also been stitched together to give a 'time-lapse' video of our planet (below), showing us the dances of the continents and the clouds as the planet drifts through space, taking everything we know along with it for the cosmic voyage.