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Our Electric Earth at Night: the “Black Marble”

Suomi NPP composite satellite image of North and South America at night

Suomi NPP satellite image of North and South America at night

In daylight our big blue marble is all land, oceans and clouds. But the night is electric.

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.

Although the view looking down from space is of a sparkling show, the downside of course is light pollution over major metropolitan areas which impede the view of the night sky from the ground. (Find out more at the International Dark Sky Association site.)

Read more (and watch a video of these nighttime images of Earth) below:

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Goodbye, Earth!

If you haven’t seen this before, you’re probably not alone. It’s a video made from a series of several hundred images acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft as it swung past Earth, departing forever on its journey to Mercury on August 2, 2005 — just a day shy of one year after its launch. Many blogs that are around today didn’t exist then (including Lights in the Dark!) and so there’s probably lots of people who haven’t had a chance to watch this.

I suggest you check it out. It’s very cool.

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A Blue Marble Martini – With Extra Ice

The latest image of Earth from NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite. (NASA/GSFC/Suomi NPP)

This latest portrait of Earth from NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite puts the icy Arctic in the center, showing the ice and clouds that cover our planet’s northern pole. The image you see here was created from data acquired during fifteen orbits of Earth.

Read the rest of this article here.

Hello, Earth!

NASA satellite image of Earth. January 2012

It’s the 2012 version of the “Blue Marble“! Here’s an amazing new high-definition portrait of our planet, made by NASA’s Suomi NPP satellite launched back on October 28. This is a composite image created from multiple scans taken with the satellite’s Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).

The Suomi NPP satellite. Click for animation.

Suomi NPP is the first satellite designed to collect critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change. It orbits Earth about 14 times each day and observes nearly the entire surface.

Learn more about the Suomi NPP satellite here.

Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

As The World Turns

Today is the autumnal equinox, when the Earth receives sunlight at its most direct angle relative to its equator and poles. As Earth orbits around the Sun over the course of a year, its axial tilt causes the angle of solar illumination to change – a predictable and regular change, but a change nonetheless. This is what gives us our seasons and affects our climate zones and weather and basically how life on our planet has evolved to be what it is, where it is! Fascinating stuff, although admittedly a little hard to envision.

This helps:

The video was taken with the European METEOSAT-9 Earth-observing satellite – or rather, an animation made up of images of our planet taken over a single year. You don’t see the Earth itself move, but the terminator line – the edge of the shadow between the day side and the night side – clearly changes angle through the animation.

Since the angle of the sunlight isn’t changing, the realization is that the Earth itself is what’s moving! Very cool.

Originally posted by Phil Plait at the BadAstronomy blog… read more on Universe Today here.

Hello, World


Rosetta’s last view of home, captured on Nov. 13, 2009

All I can say is ” :) “.

On its way back for its third and last flyby on Nov. 13, 2009, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft captured this beautiful photo of our planet. The illuminated crescent shows the south polar region, with some of Antarctica’s sea ice reflecting brightly through the swirling clouds.

Rosetta used its OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) narrow-angle camera, taking images in orange, blue and green filters which were then combined to make this full-color version.

The spacecraft was 393,000 miles away when this photo was taken. (That’s 140,000 miles further away than the moon.)

ESA’s Rosetta is the first mission designed to orbit and land on a comet. Launched in March of 2004, it is scheduled to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, establish orbit and release a lander onto the comet’s surface. The mission will attempt to learn more about the composition of comets, and what their contributions were, if any, to the development of life on Earth.


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