Earth  ID: 2276

Earth at Night 2001

This is what the Earth looks like at night. Can you find your favorite country or city? Surprisingly, city lights make this task quite possible. Human-made lights highlight particularly developed or populated areas of the Earth's surface, including the seaboards of Europe, the eastern United States, and Japan. Many large cities are located near rivers or oceans so that they can exchange goods cheaply by boat. Particularly dark areas include the central parts of South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. The above image is actually a composite of hundreds of pictures made by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) currently operates four satellites carrying the Operational Linescan System (OLS) in low-altitude polar orbits. Three of these satellites record nighttime data. The DMSP-OLS has a unique capability to detect low levels of visible-near infrared (VNIR) radiance at night. With the OLS 'VIS' band data it is possible to detect clouds illuminated by moonlight, plus lights from cities, towns, industrial sites, gas flares, and ephemeral events such as fires and lightning-illuminated clouds.

The Nighttime Lights of the World data set is compiled from the October 1994 - March 1995 DMSP nighttime data collected when moonlight was low. Using the OLS thermal infrared band, areas containing clouds were removed and the remaining area used in the time series. This animation is derived from an image created by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon from data provided by Christopher Elvidge of the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center.



For More Information

Visible Earth

Visualization Credits

Stuart A. Snodgrass (GST): Lead Animator
Robert Simmon (SSAI): Animator
Craig Mayhew (Raytheon): Animator
Christopher Elvidge (NOAA/NGDC): Scientist
Marc Imhoff (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Data Used:
DMSP/OLS/Earth at Night
1994/10 - 1995/03
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

This item is part of this series:
Earth at Night

Goddard TV Tapes:

DLESE >> Human geography
SVS >> Lights
SVS >> Night
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Biosphere >> Ecological Dynamics >> Fire Occurrence
NASA Science >> Earth

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