Satellite captures 'black marble' view of Earth at night

NASA
Almost 40 years to the day after the Apollo 17 crew snapped the famed "blue marble" image of Earth floating in space on Dec. 7, 1972, NASA has unveiled "black marble" video views of the planet by night. The cloud-free pictures, taken with a high-resolution visible and infrared imager aboard a NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, capture the night lights of Earth in unprecedented detail. The sensor can capture the equivalent of three low-light images simultaneously, giving researchers the opportunity to study Earth's atmosphere, land and oceans at night. "It's very high-quality data," NOAA scientist Christopher Elvidge told reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. "I rate it six times better spatial resolution." The so-called day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, can distinguish the night-time glow of Earth's atmosphere as well as a light from a single ship at sea.

The resolution is far sharper than what has been available previously.

VIIRS is aboard the Suomi NPP satellite, which orbits about 500 miles (800 km) above Earth's poles.

Scientists used the day-night sensor to watch the superstorm Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, hit the New Jersey shore on Oct. 29. It also captured the power outages that plunged the

area into darkness as the storm tore into populated areas. The National Weather Service is starting to use the VIIRS day-night sensor to forecast fog in coastal regions, including San Francisco. Some VIIRS images have surprised scientists. The sensor, for example, captured light from the upper atmosphere illuminating clouds and ice in visible wavelengths - by night. Link to images:

Please read our terms of use before posting comments
TERMS OF USE: The views, opinions and comments posted are your, and are not endorsed by this website. You shall be solely responsible for the comment posted here. The website reserves the right to delete, reject, or otherwise remove any views, opinions and comments posted or part thereof. You shall ensure that the comment is not inflammatory, abusive, derogatory, defamatory &/or obscene, or contain pornographic matter and/or does not constitute hate mail, or violate privacy of any person (s) or breach confidentiality or otherwise is illegal, immoral or contrary to public policy. Nor should it contain anything infringing copyright &/or intellectual property rights of any person(s).
comments powered by Disqus