The new images were taken over 22 days by a satellite imaging system and provide the most detailed look yet at the world's night lights.
(Image source: NASA ) BY STEVEN SPARKMAN ANCHOR ZACH TOOMBS Think pictures of Earth in the dark would be boring? NA SA and NOAA have some new images that might change your mind. These photographs — that’s right, photos, not CGI graphics — show the most detailed views ever of our planet’s night lights: clusters of street lamps, fishing boats — even wildfires. Some of the first things to jump out of the image include North America’s lit-up East Coast, the thin strip of lights along the Nile River, or the fact that Moscow kind of looks like a snowflake. NASA says the image also puts global politics in bright lights. “Even political borders are starkly visible in this view of North and South Korea and in a line of fishing boats that dot the Yellow Sea.” The images come from a satellite operated jointly by the two government agencies. They used a new high-res imager that a Slate writer says is the most advanced yet. “Far more sensitive than its predecessors, this camera can spot fires, the aurora, city lights, and even moonlit clouds at night.” It took the satellite 312 trips around the Earth over 22 days to get a clear, cloudless shot of every area on the planet. Then those images were stitched together to get what NASA calls the “Black Marble” photo. That’s in contrast to the “Blue Marble” images , high-res pics of Earth during the daytime NASA has been releasing for 40 years. But there’s more to be gained from the nighttime photos than oos and ahs. A writer for Discovery News says detailed nighttime images can help scientists track weather patterns, wildfires, volcanos, urban sprawl, blackouts and, of course, light pollution.