SternisheFan writes "This spectacular night-time view of Earth is called Black Marble. It has been assembled from a series of cloud-free images acquired by one of the most capable satellites in the sky today -the Suomi spacecraft. The platform was launched by the US last year, principally to deliver critical meteorological data. The Black Marble dataset shows off one of Suomi's key innovations: the low-light sensitivity of its VIIRS instrument.
VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) can discern a range of phenomena of interest to weather forecasters -cloud, snow, fog, etc -even when the satellite is on the dark side of the Earth. Most of the time, all VIIRS needs to do its work is some illumination from the Moon. But if that is not available, the instrument can still detect features down below just from the nocturnal glow of the atmosphere itself. And, of course, just as this Black Marble rendition demonstrates, VIIRS is also very good at capturing the lights of our cities. The new imagery was unveiled here at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the largest annual gathering of Earth scientists.
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