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Daily iPad App: NASA's Earth As Art shows us our beautiful planet

NASA has a series of excellent educational iOS apps that appeal to adults and kids alike. Most have a strong scientific bent, but if you lean more towards art than science, NASA has an iPad app for you, too. Mixing a little bit of earth and planetary science with a keen eye for art, NASA has created its Earth As Art app, an iPad title that shows off the unseen beauty of our planet.

NASA's Earth As Art app picks the best images of Earth from the Terra, Landsat 5, Landsat 7, EO-1 and Aqua satellites. It also adds in some choice photos from the USGS Landsat image gallery. The satellites used to take these photos can measure light outside the visible range. The resulting images show you the Earth as you have never seen it before.

The images are presented in gallery format, allowing you to see a thumbnail of each stunning photograph. You can also switch to list format, which is sorted by geographical location. When viewing an image, you can pinch and zoom to look closely at a specific section. Each image has a brief and only slightly scientific description that you can access by tapping on the "i" in the corner. You may not understand the scientific reasons why each photo looks the way it does, but this is an art-centric app. You are expected to sit back and enjoy the images, not necessarily dissect them.

Besides stunning images, the app also has a several time-lapse photos that show changes in a specific location. I particularly enjoyed the Dubai series that shows the creation of its artificial palm islands and the rapid development of the area. The changes in just a short 11 years is unbelievable.

The NASA Earth As Art app is available for free. It's an iPad app and requires iOS 4.3 or later.

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