NASA have released high-resolution images of the Earth, entitled Black Marble, showing us what our planet looks like at night.
The composite images were captured from April to October 2012 using a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, Suomi NPP. The images were constructed using cloud-free night images. Back in January, NASA released similar images of the Earth during the day time called Blue Marble that were equally impressive (I have NASA’a Blue Marble printed 40″ x 40″ and it look spectacular) that showed some amazing details of The Americas.
Now thought, thanks to a new sensor that was fitted last year, NASA are able to take incredible images of the Earth at night.
The new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea. Satellites in the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have been making observations with low-light sensors for 40 years. But the VIIRS day-night band can better detect and resolve Earth’s night lights.
The Suomi NPP satellite, named after meteorology pioneer Verner Suomi, that houses the VIIRS instrument flies over any given point of our planet twice a day at roughly 01:30 hrs and 13:30 hrs at a height of approximately 512 miles (824 kilometers) above our planet.
Black Marble showing The Americas at night (Full Size 8192 x 8192)
Here is what the US looks like at night from space (Full size 6646 x 4430)
Here is the flat version of Black Marble showing awesome details of our planet at night
Here is NASA’s Black Marble animation