This new, cloud-free view of Earth at night is a composite of data acquired over nine days in April and 13 days in October, 2012. The joint NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Satellite (Suomi NPP) needed 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get clear shots of every parcel of land surface. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view. The result is beautiful, and meaningful, as the video below explains.
Video Credits: NASA’s Earth Observatory with data processed by NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center and combined with a version of the Earth Observatory’s Blue Marble: Next Generation.
Bottom line: Suomi NPP was used to create this new cloud-free view of Earth at night.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.