is everything still the worst

Himawari 8 Bot

April 22, 2016

Another Twitter bot; this one creates GIFs from satellite data from the Japanese Meterological Agency’s Himawari 8 weather satellite. You can find technical information on the satellite at the JMA’s website.

The satellite was launched late-2014, sending back its first image of the full disk of the Earth on December 18, 2014. It remains in geosynchronous orbit over the equator, 35,786km away, right about at 140.7°E. The satellite sends back data every 10 minutes. The videos on this site are from eary runs of the bot and constructed from crops of the full disk images.

The close-crop imagery is from Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University. They do love their acronyms, don’t they?

The bot generally tweets close-crop videos every three hours or so. Each frame has to be downloaded from CIRA, cropped, and assembled into an MP4. The individual frames are about 22 megabytes each, and, if memory serves, each video is generated from about 60 frames. This part of the bot runs on a Raspberry Pi Model B, which, being tiny and underpowered, takes a very long time to make the videos.

About 1.5 – 2 hours most days to make a 12 second video.

Concurrently, another server downloads images from the JMA (soon to be switched over to the feed here), which are much smaller, of the full disk of the Earth. This is the iconic Blue Marble-type photography.

The bot’s creation was inspired by Rob Meyer’s TinyLetter Not Doomed Yet from October 26, 2015. Right around that time, he wrote:

“But a photo that was once only a dream will become a commonplace. And in years to come, when discussing photos of the blue orb and the black abyss, we’ll talk about our favorites, not the firsts.”

Which I thought was pretty good. I hope you find one you like.

Sometimes the bot gets questions. Here are answers to some of those:

  • What is that red color? It’s the processing applied to the raw imagery data by CIRA. See CIRA’s site for more information.
  • Do you have GIFs/videos from date? No; however, you can look through the bot’s archive on Twitter and, if date is after October 27, 2015, then you’re welcome to download whatever you find.
  • Not a question, but there was some confusion about the bot and There is no affiliation.

Otherwise, it’s mostly fringe-y discussions about the Earth being flat (it is not). If you have a question, let me know.

Again, the bot is himawari8bot. If you are interested in the source code that runs the bot, it’s on GitHub.

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