The Most Accurate, Highest Resolution Night Earth View to Date: Black Marble

By Jesus Diaz on at

This is the most accurate, highest resolution true colour night image of planet Earth to date. These images are truly extraordinary, "an unprecedented new look at our planet at night," as NASA says. It's the newest and sleekest version of the Blue Marble. NASA calls it the Black Marble. And it's stunning indeed.

The images are also perfect for your desktop, phone and tablet background. And you can pick whatever hemisphere you want right here at full resolution, 8,192 x 8,192 pixels. [NASA Goddard Flickr]

The Most Accurate, Highest Resolution Night Earth View to Date: Black Marble

From NASA:

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.

"Artificial lighting is a excellent remote sensing observable and proxy for human activity," says Chris Elvidge, who leads the Earth Observation Group at NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center. 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.

Download the full resolution here.

The Most Accurate, Highest Resolution Night Earth View to Date: Black Marble

From NASA:

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.

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 gas flares, auroras, wildfires, city lights, and reflected moonlight. In this case, auroras, fires, and other stray light have been removed to emphasize the city lights.

"Night time imagery provides an intuitively graspable view of our planet," says William Stefanov, senior remote sensing scientist for the International Space Station program office. "They provide a fairly straightforward means to map urban versus rural areas, and to show where the major population centers are and where they are not."

Download the full resolution here

The Most Accurate, Highest Resolution Night Earth View to Date: Black Marble

From NASA:

This image of Asia and Australia 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.

"Night time imagery provides an intuitively graspable view of our planet," says William Stefanov, a scientist in NASA's International Space Station program office who has worked with similar images from astronauts. "City lights are an excellent means to track urban and suburban growth, which feeds into planning for energy use and urban hazards, for studying urban heat islands, and for initialising climate models."

Download the full resolution here

The Most Accurate, Highest Resolution Night Earth View to Date: Black Marble

Here's a view of the Atlantic, America, Europe and Africa.

Download the full resolution here

And finally the whole planet, rotating.