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article imageNASA reveals composite images of earth at night

By Greta McClain     Dec 5, 2012 in Science
Thanks to NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, we can now see how the earth looks at night from outer space.
NASA revealed images that show a new global view of earth's city lights and natural phenomenons. The images were gathered this year by the Suomi NPP over a nine day period in April and thirteen day period in October. Making 312 complete orbits around the earth, the satellite images provide a clear view of every piece of land on earth. The images were then mapped over an existing "Blue Marble" imagery of Earth. This provides a realistic view of the planet.
The images show a dense concentration of lights along the heavily populated east coast of the United States. The concentration of lights begin to dissipate as you move westward, revealing large gaps over much of the mid-western states. In the Gulf of Mexico, you can see small dots of lights from ships and oil rigs. In Europe, areas in the United Kingdom, Italy and the east and west coasts of Spain are aglow with city lights. According to Yahoo! News, cities along the Nile River show a distinct glow as well. The satellite was also able to capture the illuminating glow of the northern lights and other natural phenomenon such as erupting volcanoes and forest fires.
Satellite images of the earth at night.
Satellite images of the earth at night.
NASA
The imaging project, which was a collaboration between NASA and NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) Joint Polar Satellite System, not only provides interesting and beautiful photos, the satellite camera may assist with nighttime weather forecasting. Scientists hope that the images captured by the satellite will provide clearer pictures of storms, fog and other weather conditions.
The pictures are so detailed due to Suomi NPP's ability to repeatedly scan an area and turn the scene into pixels. It then evaluates the image and if the signal in each pixel is too dark, it's amplified; if it's too bright, it's prevented from over-saturating.
Steve Miller, a researcher at NOAA's Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere told NPR:
"It's like having three simultaneous low-light cameras operating at once and we pick the best of various cameras depending on where we're looking in the scene."
Satellite images of the earth at night.
Satellite images of the earth at night.
NASA
Satellite images of the earth at night.
Satellite images of the earth at night.
NASA
Satellite images of the earth at night.
Satellite images of the earth at night.
NASA
Satellite images of the earth at night.
Satellite images of the earth at night.
NASA
More about NASA, Suomi National Polarorbiting Partnership, suomi npp, Satellite, Earth
 
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