- uploaded: Feb 8, 2013
- Hits: 118
Taking advantage of new satellite capabilities, scientists from NASA and NOAA released new imagery of Earth at night, providing a counterpart to the iconic "Blue Marble" image of the planet during the day. The imagery was generated by a sensor carried aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, known as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS. It is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by the Earth's atmosphere. The day-night band from VIIRS is helping scientists monitor carbon emissions from natural gas and oil drilling operations, since it can detect flaring operations at night. The data has proven useful for monitoring wildfires, and has even provided a rare glimpse into upper atmospheric waves that can be generated from massive complexes of thunderstorms.
The sensor doesn't operate like a typical camera, which takes a picture in a single exposure. Rather, it produces an image by repeatedly scanning a scene and resolving it as millions of pixels. It then reviews the amount of light present in each pixel, amplifying very dark pixels and limiting the saturation of very bright pixels.