Earth  ID: 30886

Black Marble 2012 vs. 2016

Satellite images of Earth at night—often referred to as "night lights"—have been a gee-whiz curiosity for the public and a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years. They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness. Produced every decade or so, such maps have spawned hundreds of pop-culture uses and dozens of economic, social science, and environmental research projects.

These images of Earth at night in 2012 and 2016 were created with data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched in October 2011 by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Each pixel shows roughly 0.46 miles (742 meters) across.

Scientists use the Suomi NPP night-lights dataset in many ways. Some applications include: forecasting a city’s energy use and carbon emissions; eradicating energy poverty and fostering sustainable energy development; providing immediate information when disasters strike; and monitoring the effects of conflict and population displacement. Scientists at NASA are working to automate nighttime VIIRS data processing so that data users are able to view nighttime imagery within hours of acquisition, which could lead to other potential uses by research, meteorological, and civic groups.



Amy Moran (Global Science and Technology, Inc.): Lead Animator
Miguel Román (NASA/GSFC): Lead Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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Data Used:
Suomi NPP/VIIRS also referred to as: VIIRS
2012, 2016
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.

SVS >> Night lights
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> World Map >> Night
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Suomi
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Human Dimensions >> Population >> Population Estimates

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