Earth at Night 2012

  • Released Friday, April 5th, 2013
  • Updated Tuesday, November 14th, 2023 at 12:22AM

This new space-based view of Earth's city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. It took the satellite 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth's land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing MODIS Blue Marble imagery to provide a realistic view of the planet.

The view was made possible by the "day-night band" of Suomi NPP's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses "smart" light sensors to observe dim signals such as city lights, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight. This low-light sensor can distinguish night lights tens to hundreds of times better than previous satellites.

Enlarged view of the United States with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of the United States with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of the Caribbean with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of the Caribbean with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of South America with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of South America with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of Europe with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of Europe with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of the Middle East with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of the Middle East with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of India with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of India with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of eastern Asia with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of eastern Asia with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of southeast Asia with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of southeast Asia with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of Australia with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

Enlarged view of Australia with a resolution of about 750 meters per pixel.

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Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
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.


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