Valentine’s Day is finally here, but the European Space Agency (ESA) has kicked off the celebration ever since the beginning of the week.
On Monday, the ESA took to YouTube to share a stunning satellite image of a very special place on Earth – the heart-shaped island of Moorea in the South Pacific. This corner of paradise is located in French Polynesia and is, in fact, the second largest island in the Society Archipelago, after Tahiti.
While Moorea is by all accounts an enchanting place – essentially, it’s the stuff that screen savers are made of, boasting glorious sights and still relatively pristine coral reefs – perhaps the most striking thing about the island is that it appears to be shaped like a human heart when observed from above.
To illustrate the uncanny resemblance, the ESA shared a gorgeous aerial view of Moorea Island, captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite. In the incredible image, which was color-processed for Valentine’s Day, the heart-shaped island dazzles in a splendid hue of deep red – which actually marks Moorea’s lush vegetation.
To make things even more spectacular, the ESA converted the exquisite satellite image into a GIF to make the heart-shaped island appear to be pulsating – complete with sound effects of a beating heart. This made the fabulous Moorea island appear as a crimson heart beating amid the vast blue of the ocean.
“With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we will soon be expressing our love to those nearest and dearest – and maybe that can include our beautiful home planet, after all, it needs all the love and care it can get,” ESA officials said in a statement.
“We send our love for Valentine’s, and for that matter every other day of the year, to our beautiful planet Earth.”
The loving tribute to Moorea island – and to planet Earth itself – was accompanied by a stark reminder that our home planet and its unique ecosystems need to be protected in order to endure.
In a poignant message posted to Twitter under the hashtag #EarthBeMine, the ESA invited everyone to choose planet Earth as their Valentine this year and to shower the planet with love by nurturing it.
To love❤️your planet is to take care of it!— ESA EarthObservation (@ESA_EO) February 13, 2019
Moorea island's relatively still pristine coral reefs are threatened by pollution/fishing and Strobel lake waters have a very unique ecosystem: #EO satellites ????️ can help us help them thrive. https://t.co/YhQA7TCzIm #EarthBeMine pic.twitter.com/3LXt8GowLX
The space agency followed up the Moorea satellite image with another beating-heart GIF, his time showcasing the heart-shaped Aral Sea in Central Asia. This emerald body of water, shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was once the fourth largest lake in the world. However, the Aral Sea is now unrecognizable, after having shrunk dramatically over the last 40 years to the point where it has almost dried up.
Known as one of the world’s greatest man-made disasters, the shrinking Aral Sea has made way to a heart-shaped terrain of white salt now called the Aral Karakum Desert, explained the ESA. The shrinking sea and its surrounding salt dessert have been imaged by Copernicus Sentinel-2 on August 30, 2018 – with the resulting image now turned into a heart-wrenching GIF.