If you’re into aesthetics, have some explorer/scientist genes inside you, allow me to say that you will definitely love Desktop Earth! Basically it is just a live wallpaper for your Windows desktop that displays real-time images of the globe (depending on your time zone) as observed by NASA’s satellites. Check out the screenshot after the jump.
The idea behind the application/wallpaper is really simple. It runs in your system tray and lets you configure the interval at which the wallpaper is updated, showing an accurate representation of Earth as it would be seen from space at your given time.
The beauty does not stop here. Configuration options allow you to set the image based on time zone, a specific time of the day, or a particular continent. Then you have the choice of choosing to have a cloud blanket or not, and if you do, it’s thickness is customizable. Even better is the option to use realistic cloud conditions from the Xplanet project, which overlap the desktop wallpaper with cloud mosaics obtained from weather satellites. (Please note that this can cause your images to go way out of sync, but dynamically increase the beauty of the wallpaper).
Other customizations include choosing day-time imagery based on the current date, or for a particular month, which would include corresponding snow and light effect on the globe. Observe how the summer sunlight dawns on my desktop above! You can also choose the night-time conditions, having city lights, moonlight or simple shadows.
Desktop Earth is definitely worth a try for those who value beauty of this World. The best part of this application is that it is very convenient on system resources, taking up only 3MB of memory. I have installed this on Windows 7 32-bit, but the developer says it should work with any version, both x86 and x64 architectures.