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NASA Leans Back for a #GlobalSelfie for Earth Day

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Your friends may tire of your selfies showing up on Facebook  (FB) and Twitter (TWTR), but NASA wants more. The U.S. space agency is asking you to indulge your inner teenager in the interests of planetary science.

To mark Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency is crowdsourcing a photomontage of the planet's various natural environments. Citizens of the world are asked to take a photo of themselves snuggling up with the natural environment and post it on social media with the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.

The agency puts no conditions on the selfies, but asks that they include the outdoors -- "mountains, parks, the sky, rivers, lakes -- wherever you are," according to the agency's Web site.

While the raw collection of portraits will be interesting to people-watching Twitter users, collectively the group will be curated to serve as an earthbound view of the planet, in conjunction with NASA's five 2014 Earth-observing space missions, which provide data recorded from craft in Earth orbit.

On the program's Web site, NASA has posted this description:

NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while also fostering a collection of portraits of the people of Earth. Once those pictures stream around the world on Earth Day, the individual pictures tagged #GlobalSelfie will be used to create a mosaic image of Earth -- a new "Blue Marble" built bit by bit with your photos.

NASA played a key role in the formation of Earth Day, by providing images of the planet seen from space that became the movement's symbol. The first was the famous "Earthrise" photo taken by Apollo 8 astronauts and showing the planet rising above the Moon's surface.

Hippie celebrity and entrepreneur Stewart Brand saw a connection between that photograph, from 1968, and the founding of Earth Day in 1970. In 1972, he ran an image of the full hemisphere, taken by Apollo 17 astronauts the same year, on the cover of The Last Whole Earth Catalog, an influential environmental tools and alternative lifestyles mail order guide.

Commonly referred to as "the blue marble," that image of the planet glowing blue in the black field of space represented the fragility and beauty of the natural world and a human responsibility to the planet. It is still closely associated with Earth Day and environmentalism in general.

-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in New York 

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