Friday, December 7, 2012

Black Marble

On December 5th, 2010 scientists unveiled an unprecedented new look at our planet at night. A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.

Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists now can observe Earth’s atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.

The new sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea. Satellites in the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program have been making observations with low-light sensors for 40 years. But the VIIRS day-night band can better detect and resolve Earth’s night lights.

The new, higher resolution composite image of Earth at night was released at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. This and other VIIRS day-night band images are providing researchers with valuable data for a wide variety of previously unseen or poorly seen events.

Check out the amazing gallery below of the ‘Black Marble’ our beautiful planet at night.

The Black Marble – Americas

This image of North and South America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

The nighttime view was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. VIIRS 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. In this case, auroras, fires, and other stray light have been removed to emphasize the city lights.

Social scientists and demographers have used night lights to model the spatial distribution of economic activity, of constructed surfaces, and of populations. Planners and environmental groups have used maps of lights to select sites for astronomical observatories and to monitor human development around parks and wildlife refuges. Electric power companies, emergency managers, and news media turn to night lights to observe blackouts.

Named for satellite meteorology pioneer Verner Suomi, NPP flies over any given point on Earth’s surface twice each day at roughly 1:30 a.m. and p.m. The polar-orbiting satellite flies 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface, sending its data once per orbit to a ground station in Svalbard, Norway, and continuously to local direct broadcast users distributed around the world. The mission is managed by NASA with operational support from NOAA and its Joint Polar Satellite System, which manages the satellite’s ground system.

Black Marble – Africa, Europe, and the Middle East
This new image of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

Black Marble – Asia and Australia

Black Marble – City Lights 2012

This remarkably complete view of Earth at night is a composite of cloud-free, nighttime images. The images were collected during April and October 2012 by the Suomi-NPP satellite from polar orbit about 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface using its Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS offers greatly improved resolution and sensitivity compared to past global nightlight detecting instrumentation on DMSP satellites. It also has advantages compared to cameras on the International Space Station, passing over the same point on Earth every two or three days while Suomi-NPP passes over the same point twice a day at about 1:30am and 1:30pm local time. Easy to recognize here, city lights identify major population centers, tracking the effects of human activity and influence across the globe. That makes nighttime images of our fair planet among the most interesting and important views from space.

Foto keseluruhan Bumi di malam hari yang luar biasa ini adalah gabungan beberapa foto bumi di malam hari yang bersih dari awan. Foto-foto ini dikumpulkan pada bulan April dan Oktober 2012 oleh satelit Suomi-NPP di orbit kutub sekitar 824 kilometer (512 mil) di atas permukaan Bumi menggunakan Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).

VIIRS memberikan resolusi dan kepekaan yang jauh lebih baik dibandingkan dengan instrumentasi kuno pendeteksi cahaya malam global pada satelit DMSP. Alat ini juga memiliki keunggulan dibandingkan dengan kamera milik Stasiun Ruang Angkasa Internasional, yang mana melewati titik yang sama di Bumi setiap dua atau tiga hari, sementara Suomi-NPP bisa melewati titik yang sama dua kali sehari pada sekitar jam 01:30 dini hari dan 13:30 siang hari waktu setempat.

Sangat mudah dikenali di sini, lampu-lampu kota menunjukkan pusat-pusat populasi padat, merujuk pada efek dari aktivitas manusia dan pengaruhnya pada dunia. Inilah yang membuat foto malam hari dari planet kita yang indah ini menjadi pemandangan dari luar angkasa yang paling menarik dan penting.

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