Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
You may have seen Earth's lights from space — but never quite like this.
Today (Dec. 5), NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a slew of images showing what the planet looks like when the sun goes down. The amazing images were announced in a news conference at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco and were taken by an instrument aboard the Suomi NPP satellite in recent months.
"For all the reasons that we need to see Earth during the day, we also need to see Earth at night," said Steve Miller, a researcher at NOAA's Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, in a NASA statement. "Unlike humans, the Earth never sleeps." [Black Marble Images: Earth at Night]
The VIIRS instrument is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea, according to the release.
This story was provided by OurAmazingPlanet, a sister site to SPACE.com. Reach Douglas Main at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We're also on Facebook and Google+.