One of the European Space Agency's (ESA) greatest gifts marks its fifth year in space. Launched February 28, 2002, from Kourou, French Guiana, Envisat is the largest and most complex environmental satellite. The spacecraft has gathered more than 500 terabytes worth of images of our home planet. As we witness New Horizons' milestone of reaching Jupiter, consider that Envisat has traveled nearly the equivalent of a jovian roundtrip.
The 10 instruments aboard Envisat help paint a global view of Earth's environment. Science aside, this provides a truckload of amazing images for us land dwellers to examine. Through Envisat's eyes, we've witnessed moments in history ranging from the innovation of Dubai's manmade Palm Islands to the unfathomable destruction of 2004's Indian Ocean tsunami.
Looking ahead, the satellite is still healthy, and ESA's contributing nations plan to finance the mission until at least 2010.
To peruse Ensivat's best images, click here.