Scientists unveiled the most detailed view of what the Earth looks like at night at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
The unprecedented nighttime view of Earth’s city lights is compiled from hundreds of images that come from a new NASA and NOAA satellite, called Suomi NPP.
Suomi NPP is special because it’s equipped with a new sensor, called VIIRS, that can capture images at night even without moonlight, distinguishing night lights with six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels than before.
This means Sumoi NPP can detect faint light down to the scale of something like a highway lamp or a fishing boat.
The result is a much crisper global view than the last Earth at Night picture, which has become a popular poster.
“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,” Steve Miller, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University, said in a statement.
Researchers can use the image to locate and study wildfires, gas flares, auroras, major population centres, and more.
You can see more fantastic views of Earth at Night at NASA’s Earth observatory website.
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