Earth, the Black Marble

Photo: NASA Earth Observatory
Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

Scientists today released a new series of composite photos of Earth at night. In contrast to NASA’s well known series of “Blue Marble” photos, this series has been name “Black Marble.” Most satellites can only photograph Earth in sunlight, but a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, allows scientists to observe and photograph Earth’s atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.

For more photos and information about the “Black Marble — City LIghts 2012” series, see NASA Goddard Photo and Video collection on Flickr. Don’t miss the beautiful HD animation.

Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

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6 thoughts on “Earth, the Black Marble

  1. Whenever I view night time orbital shots, I always find myself looking for my light. Then I think, hey! I’m in that glow somewhere! Everyone contributes a little. We’re all a little glow.

    1. I’ve always done that too. I suppose it’s a very human thing to always look for home. I enjoy seeing my home as a bright light in the middle of the vast, openness of the western U.S. The eastern half of the country looks so crowded. I wonder what approaching aliens would make of those lights …

  2. I was reminded by this of an old (1990’s) National Geographic map I used to have on my office wall, so I googled it and darned if they aren’t still selling it, even though it was published 18 years ago. It shows by population density from Boston down to the Tidewater, VA area that this stretch is for all practical purposes one continuous city. It would be even more so now, no doubt, as the density thickens and culture evolves. I saw in the paper yesterday that HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes were becoming more common in urban areas – that’s where your electronic card acquires an extra toll fee when you want to bypass the creep and beep on your commute. I’m still waiting for my Jetson’s commuter air buggy. 🙂

    1. I can attest that NE coast is like one big city, and it won’t be long before it extends south into Florida. Definitely not my cup of tea. I chafe on urban freeways and long for the open road. I feel claustrophobic if I don’t live within a fifteen or twenty minutes of open country. One reason I don’t get out for more long mountain drives is that our main access road to many points of interest is I-70, and it takes a good half hour or more of urban freeway driving to get to the west side of Denver from here. Not so bad heading out, but very stressful on the return at the end of a long day. And likely catching rush hour traffic both ways.

      We have HOV/Express lanes on Denver’s north side which bypass a particularly congested area. (HOV=High Occupancy Vehicle) With two or more occupants in the vehicle, it’s free. Single drivers can pay a toll to drive there. It helps, but it needs to be extended north another four miles or so. Our major traffic arteries aren’t developing as fast as the traffic loads.

... and that's my two cents