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Tournament Earth 2021: See the astronaut’s winning photo

You helped NASA Earth Observatory pick 32 participants, and now you’ve picked a champion. More than 930,000 votes were cast in five rounds, and the winner of Tournament Earth 2021 is a photo from Lake Van, Turkey.

The image was suggested by readers in February 2021 and was placed as the # 8 seed in the Tranquility series. The photo was taken by astronaut Kate Rubins in September 2016 and shows part of one of the largest alkaline lakes in the world.

The waters at the town of Erciş (90,000 inhabitants) are shallow, but other parts of the lake can be as deep as 450 meters. Water levels in Lake Van have changed by hundreds of meters over the last 600,000 years due to climate change, volcanic eruptions and tectonic activity.

Turbidity plumes, which appear as swirls of light and dark-tinted water, are usually made up of calcium carbonate, waste and some organic matter. High particle flows occur in Lake Van during the spring and fall, when phytoplankton and aquatic plants grow and produce a lot of organic carbon. The lake is also home to the largest known modern microbial deposits.

The semi-finalist was an image composed of a series of photos taken by NASA astronaut Don Pettit while on board the ISS in April 2012. Caribbean Sea, through South America and across the South Atlantic Ocean.

Pettit explained that long exposure photos of the station show star trails as circular arcs, with the center of rotation being the poles of the station. Stars close to the center of rotation make the tight circles near the center of the image, while stars farther away reveal the larger arcs along the edges.

“My star trails are created by taking an exposure time of about 10 to 15 minutes,” Pettit wrote. “With modern digital cameras, however, 30 seconds is about the longest possible exposure time, because the noise from the electronic detector effectively snowfires the image.

To achieve the longer exposures, I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30 second exposures and then stack them using image editing software, which gives me the longer exposure time.

“The image contains a lot of natural and artificial light that astronauts see as they pass the night side of the Earth. On the ground, stationary features such as cities appear as buff-white stripes. America.

Looking at the horizon, thunderstorms fall into the landscape. Many of the frames compiled caught bright white flashes of lightning.

Above the horizon, a faint green-yellow phenomenon called airglow hugs the upper atmosphere.

Look carefully at the image for at least one strip of light that is not aligned with all the others. That’s a satellite.