Sometimes a picture really does communicate a concept simply and clearly—particularly when it’s an image of a familiar object or phenomenon seen from a different perspective. That’s what’s great about imaging Earth from orbit, since it provides an opportunity to view our home planet in a new way.
As explained in an impressively clear and simple caption page, the image above shows contrails over the Midwest as imaged by the Terra satellite a few days ago. Everyone who looks up at the sky over the United States knows what a contrail is, but wow, take a look at the durn things from orbit! Hmmm. (Second-order question: I wonder what that does to the atmosphere…)
Also, note the unobtrusive scale and directional markers! Yay!
For obvious reasons, this reminds me of one of the winners of the NSF/Science magazine 2006 Visualization Challenge.