Earth  ID: 30908

Pinpointing Where the Lights Went Out in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico, it quickly became clear that the destruction would pose daunting challenges for first responders. Most of the electric power grid and telecommunications network was knocked offline. Flooding, downed trees, and toppled power lines made many roads impassable.

These before-and-after images of Puerto Rico’s nighttime lights are based on data captured by the Suomi NPP satellite. The data were acquired by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared, including reflected moonlight, light from fires and oil wells, lightning, and emissions from cities or other human activity.

One pair of images shows differences in lighting across the entire island, while the other pair shows lighting around San Juan, capital of the commonwealth. One image in each pair shows a typical night before Maria made landfall, based upon cloud-free and low moonlight conditions; the second image is a composite that shows light detected by VIIRS on the nights of September 27 and 28, 2017. By compositing two nights, the image has fewer clouds blocking the view. (Note: some clouds still blocked light emissions during the two nights, especially across southeastern and western Puerto Rico.) The images show widespread outages around San Juan, including key hospital and transportation infrastructure.

For More Information


Amy Moran (GST): Lead Animator
Joshua Stevens (Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI)): Lead Data Visualizer
Miguel Román (NASA/GSFC): Lead Scientist
Adam P. Voiland (Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI)): Lead Writer
Andrew Molthan (NASA MSFC): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Short URL to share this page:

Suomi NPP

SVS >> Lights
SVS >> Night lights
GCMD >> Location >> Puerto Rico
SVS >> Hyperwall
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Hurricane Maria

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version