Wednesday, December 05, 2012

New NASA Night Earth Photo Shows Shimmering Cities

Night Lights Across The United States - A Dazzling Display From Space

“Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights,” asserts Chris Elvidge, a NOAA scientist who has studied them for 20 years, said about the newest NASA nighttime images from a NASA satellite.

This image of the continental United States at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite in April and October 2012. 

The image was made possible by the satellite's "day-night band" of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which 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.

Named for satellite meteorology pioneer Verner Suomi, NPP satellite flies over any given point on Earth's surface twice each day at roughly 1:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The polar-orbiting satellite flies 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface as it circles the planet 14 times a day. 

Data is sent once per orbit to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and continuously to local direct broadcast users around the world.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

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