NASA’s “Black Marble” Photos of Earth

United States; NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

Last week, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a photo collection of Earth at night called “Black Marble,” which was captured by Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS. The VIIRS detects visible light, and it is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere. These new images serve as a comparison to the iconic “Blue Marble” images of the planet during the day.

Hurricane Sandy; NASA Earth Observatory/Suomi NPP

Included in the photo collection are images of Hurricane Sandy making landfall over NewJersey, and show the widespread power outages on the East Coast.

According to NASA, the VIIRS sensor provides scientists with six times greater spatial resolution compared to older satellite instruments, that is helping researchers shed insight on everything from global carbon emissions to compliance with fishing regulations.

Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012; NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

The “Black Marble” photo collection is rapidly creating interesting media buzz. These images have sparked conversation regarding our energy usage – are these photos a sign of progress or failure? Tell us what you think!