Black Marble - Americas

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    NASA image acquired April 18 - October 23, 2012

    This image of North and South America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

    The nighttime view was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight. In this case, auroras, fires, and other stray light have been removed to emphasize the city lights.

    “Artificial lighting is a excellent remote sensing observable and proxy for human activity,” says Chris Elvidge, who leads the Earth Observation Group at NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center. Social scientists and demographers have used night lights to model the spatial distribution of economic activity, of constructed surfaces, and of populations. Planners and environmental groups have used maps of lights to select sites for astronomical observatories and to monitor human development around parks and wildlife refuges. Electric power companies, emergency managers, and news media turn to night lights to observe blackouts.

    Named for satellite meteorology pioneer Verner Suomi, NPP flies over any given point on Earth's surface twice each day at roughly 1:30 a.m. and p.m. The polar-orbiting satellite flies 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface, sending its data once per orbit to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and continuously to local direct broadcast users distributed around the world. The mission is managed by NASA with operational support from NOAA and its Joint Polar Satellite System, which manages the satellite's ground system.

    NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

    Instrument: Suomi NPP - VIIRS

    Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

    Click here to view all of the Earth at Night 2012 images

    Click here to read more about this image

    NASA image use policy.

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.

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    rchrdstranger, 8minutestorm, and 533 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 20 more comments

    1. le cabri 28 months ago | reply

      Great catch

    2. aignes 28 months ago | reply

      Well done...
      Seen on Explore.

    3. ConPhoto* 28 months ago | reply

      a more interactive version up here - y'know, zoomable and stuff :)

    4. Lauri Johnston 28 months ago | reply

      Thank you for sharing! This is incredible.

    5. OBJECTIVE-MAN 28 months ago | reply

      Wonderful !! Love it !!
      He's got the whole world in his hand

    6. xiint 28 months ago | reply

      is that hurricane sandy I see?

    7. ** Lucky Cavey ** 28 months ago | reply

      Love this image too!

    8. CameliaTWU 28 months ago | reply

      Excellent work! Congratulations on Explore!

    9. freddeadzed 28 months ago | reply

      what is the bright spot in the gulf of mexico west of campeche?

    10. freddeadzed 28 months ago | reply

      Also amazed at the difference between Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean.

    11. Judith North 28 months ago | reply

      Amazing work.

    12. Ranger Bob 28 months ago | reply

      'Black Marble' Goes Interactive: Explore the Earth in Darkness -

    13. angelodaVerona 25 months ago | reply

      I think the map of lights is the map of rich countries.
      Stunning capture.

    14. luisramiro 8 months ago | reply

      Excelentes fotos un orgullo para el hombre

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