The most detailed picture of our planet at night was unveiled at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco today, Dec. 5.
The incredible global view comes from a joint NASA-NOAA satellite, called Suomi NPP, which carries an instrument (the day-night band) that is sensitive enough to detect light from a highway lamp, a ship at sea, or a wildfire in the middle of the night.
A snapshot of Earth’s city lights was pieced together from images acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012 — which means that the satellite also got a good look at Hurricane Sandy barreling toward the Eastern seaboard at the end of October.
The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29. Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.
In this stunning animation of Earth spinning in the night sky, compiled from hundreds of real images, it looks like Hurricane Sandy is that big light blue splotch off the U.S. East Coast.
Take another look in this remarkable still image:
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