(FOX19) - For the first time since 2012, NASA has released new satellite images from across the globe of what Earth looks like at night. These images are the clearest and most accurate yet.
The NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite has aided greatly by taking more high resolution images. More research has also lead to a better understanding of what limits the accuracy of these images. Everything from moonlight, vegetation, clouds, snow, and auroras can scatter light and interfere with nighttime satellite imagery.
Now, algorithms have been developed to identify the images from the clearest nights with the least moonlight. New remote sensing techniques also filter out extraneous light to get the most vivid image of where man-made light is on the planet.
Besides just being pretty to look at, these images also have a lot of scientific and social value. Comparing recent nighttime images to older ones allows us to see where and how humans are moving across the planet and which cities are expanding/shrinking. Monitoring the intensity of light also allows for estimates of energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.
In the future, scientists hope that such accurate nighttime imagery can be produced more frequently, perhaps daily. This would allow for power outages caused by severe weather to be more closely monitored. Maps could be issued to first responders to help them determine where resources need to be placed to restore power as quickly as possible.
You can view more nighttime images from across the globe here: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/NightLights/
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