SAN FRANCISCO—This incredibly detailed 360-degree view of Earth at night was unveiled during a December 5 presentation at the American Geophysical Union conference. NASA stitched together two months of imagery taken by the new Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) satellite to create a completely cloud-free view of the nighttime planet.
The resolution of VIIRS is six times finer than any previous light-sensing satellite. VIIRS can discern not just city lights but also light from industrial sites, fires, gas flares and boats at sea. NASA and NOAA have begun testing a long list of applications that the satellite will make possible. The observatory will help to improve weather forecasts by mapping nighttime cloud cover; track the movement of wildfires at night; and chart ice, snow and clouds across the Arctic during the long dark winter.