The World Needed a Selfie

Looking at the major social media campaigns that I have seen over the past year, I wanted to look at one that I never exactly noticed, when I definitely should have. The one that comes to mind is NASA’s Earth Right Now campaign, featuring the #GlobalSelfie for Earth Day in 2014. First, I would like to take a look at how wonderful and completely under-appreciated NASA is as a whole. Let’s explore:

The Campaign

For Earth Day in 2014, NASA wanted to celebrate a huge achievement of theirs for our planet. They stated, “The year 2014 is a significant one for NASA Earth science. For the first time in more than a decade, five missions designed to gather critical data about our home planet are launching to space in a single year. The first, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission’s Core Observatory, launched in February. Next up is the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), launching from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on July 1.” These five new Earth science missions expand the world’s current knowledge of Earth’s changing climate and overall environment. So, to celebrate this accomplishment and bring awareness to the wonderful day, NASA decided to create the world’s largest selfie, called #GlobalSelfie.

Goals and Objectives

The goal was to create a mosaic that would look like the view of Earth from space using all of the selfie photos in one ginormous viewable photo. The photos used in the mosaic were taken on or around April 22, 2014, and each photo is a pixel in the mosaic.

The objectives for this campaign were simple: raise awareness of NASA’s awesomeness, raise awareness of Earth Day through an easy question, and take advantage of the relevance of social media and the rise of the selfie. The one question NASA asked the entire world was: “Where are you on Earth right now?” to get people to realize the importance of the fact that we are standing in or on such a beautiful place, and we must take care of our planet in order to fully enjoy each and every place a person is at on Earth Day.


NASA went primarily to Facebook for this campaign, so people could comment and post their selfie’s with where they were at that time for their piece of the “global selfie.” The hashtag was also posted and promoted on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Flickr. Anyone who used the hashtag and uploaded their selfie of where they were on Earth ‘right now’ was used for the final product. More than 50,000 selfies were tagged using the hashtag #globalselfie from almost everywhere around the world.


The result was phenomenal. A month later, on May 22, 2014, NASA released the final image. It is a zoomable 3.2-gigapixel image that people can click through to see who took a selfie and where they were that day. Here is what the zoomed out photo looks like:


You can zoom into the mega-picture and see every single pixel/photo that was used in this humongous selfie on the gigapan website. Even though more than 50,000 photos were submitted using the hashtag, some could not be accessed or used in the mega-photo. It was ultimately created by using 36,422 individual photos using #globalselfie on or a few days prior to April 22. 113 countries and regions participated in the world’s largest selfie, and each of these people were geolocated from their selfies and placed on the globe accordingly. NASA stated countries “From Antarctica to Yemen, Greenland to Guatemala, Micronesia to the Maldives, Pakistan, Poland, Peru – and on” as those who garnered selfies for this major day.

The “How”

How did NASA create this insanely huge selfie mosaic in just a few weeks? The answer: “The mosaic is based on views of each hemisphere that were captured on April 22, 2014 by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite instrument on the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, a joint NOAA-NASA mission. The diagonal stripes in the images are due to the satellite capturing the reflection of sunlight off ocean waters.”

Here are some of the responses to the entire campaign, and the #globalselfie:

There is a Global Selfie page dedicated to the designated hashtag #globalselfie on Twitter that captured all of the selfies used in NASA’s photo. To add another unique aspect to the campaign besides the hashtag, NASA’s social media team created a downloadable sign for everyone to use if they did not want to create one themselves, and it comes in more than 20 languages, for people to write on all over the world and get their selfie recognized and used as a pixel in the world’s selfie:



Considering there were more than 50,000 submissions for the #globalselfie, I would take that as a very positive reaction to this campaign. Tapping into the world’s obsession with selfies and social media, NASA did a fantastic job in capturing a current trend to highlight the beauty of the world around us and all of the amazing things they have accomplished to provide global insight to the Earth, climate change, worldwide environmental effects and the ultimate passion that our scientists have. NASA did an incredible job bringing their very science-oriented organization to the social media sphere in a way they never have before, engaging the public, making me rethink the power of social media for government corporations and organizations.

This was a highly positive campaign, but the campaign itself was not really known outside the months of April and May 2014, the months the campaign and hashtag #globalselfie came into play. Earth Right Now, the actual campaign holding a different title than its hashtag, did not get the traction it needed to stay current and newsworthy. If NASA did the #globalselfie every year, it would bring more awareness to the scientific and otherworldly accomplishments of this talented organization. The global selfie would also become a way to watch each person’s view of the impacts they are having wherever they are in the world change on a year to year basis. People would then have a very tangible and concrete picture, or selfie, of their impacts on the world around them, the purpose of celebrating Earth Day each year.

– C

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