Tellus' 'Earth From Space' offers new global perspective
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 02, 2011 | 2390 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joe Schulman, left, marketing director, and Jose Santamaria, executive director, review Tellus Science Museum’s newest temporary exhibit, “Earth From Space,” that features 18 satellite images. 
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Joe Schulman, left, marketing director, and Jose Santamaria, executive director, review Tellus Science Museum’s newest temporary exhibit, “Earth From Space,” that features 18 satellite images. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Opening Saturday, Tellus Science Museum's newest temporary exhibit blurs the boundaries of scientific research and artistic expression.

In "Earth From Space," patrons can gain a new perspective of the planet from 18 satellite images. Created by the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Geological Survey, the exhibit's high-resolution photographs are going to be displayed in the Science in Motion Gallery through April 22.

"First of all, I've always loved aerial photographs, especially from space," said Jose Santamaria, executive director for Tellus. "When we fly, I always love looking out the window. I love looking at the landscape from a very high perspective. So these satellites give you pretty much an ultimate perspective of different landforms on the Earth and they form into these patterns that you would just never expect.

"[The photographs range] from the pyramids of Cairo to a Manhattan Island. We have a volcano, we have a swamp, we have [a] river delta -- so a whole variety of different images. We have a beautiful image of the Earth at night and all the continents outlined by the lights of the cities. ... My favorite aspect of these images are [the various] textures of the Earth and how you have different textures depending where the landforms are, depending on the foliage or the water and how they just complement each other. There's a lot of abstraction there."

The idea for this exhibit started earlier this year, when Tellus received posters of these satellite images from the Smithsonian. Wanting to obtain higher-quality photographs than those in the posters, the museum staff contacted the Smithsonian about enlarging the original images and received permission to proceed.

"They're pretty large," Santamaria said, referring to the satellite images featured in "Earth From Space." "These were originally a poster set given to us from the Smithsonian because of our affiliation with the Smithsonian. So the posters themselves are pretty neat. I'd love to have them in my office. But I kind of thought they were too small.

"So what we did was we got permission from the Smithsonian and we got the files from them and we got those printed from twice to two and a half times the size. We went from like a 20-by-30 poster to a 40-inch wide and 60-inch high or even bigger images."

For Tellus Curator Julian Gray, their efforts paid off, resulting in a "fabulous" temporary exhibit.

"When you look at the Earth from several hundred miles elevation -- look back down on it -- if you isolate one area, it's very art-like," Gray said. "Some of these images really are art in themselves but they're also useful scientifically.

"The one that I think to me is most striking is the Lena Delta," he said about a photograph taken in July 2000 with the Landsat 7 satellite, which captures images of about 25 percent of the planet's landmass every 16 days. "That's in Russia and it actually empties out into the Arctic sea. It's just these beautiful, vibrant oranges and greens and deep blues. It's such a beautiful image."

Along with the 18 photographs, taken from 1976 to 2002, the exhibit also features an educational exhibit that explains how the Earth-observing instruments obtain information through remote sensing and how the images are processed.

"Come see it. I think it's great," Gray said. "You can come see it as science or you can come see it as art, and that's one of the reasons we like it."

In addition to Science In Motion, the 120,000-square-foot museum at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville, is comprised of three main galleries -- The Weinman Mineral Gallery, The Fossil Gallery and The Collins Family My Big Backyard -- a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory. A Smithsonian affiliate, Tellus has attracted more than 500,000 visitors since opening in January 2009.

For more information about the museum and its upcoming events and programs, call 770-606-5700 or visit www.tellusmuseum.org.