A high-res Earth from 512 miles (photos)

The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite will monitor the planet's environment, exposing long-term patterns helpful in assessing the impact of climate change.

The Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS, onboard NASA's newest Earth-observing satellite acquired its first image this week, a stunning view of Eastern North America from Canada's Hudson Bay past Florida to the northern coast of Venezuela.

The low-Earth orbit satellite known as NPP carries five instruments as it travels at 16,640mph at an altitude of 512 miles. It was launched October 29 from Vandenberg Air Force base in California on a mission to observe Earth's environment and climate.

NASA says the tools aboard the NPP will be used in monitoring that planet's environment, exposing long-term patterns helpful in assessing the impact of climate change as well as providing data that will be used by meteorologists for weather forecasting.

VIIRS will collect radiometric imagery in visible and infrared wavelengths of the Earth's land, atmosphere, and oceans. Using data collected from 22 channels across the electromagnetic spectrum, VIIRS will be used to study the state of Earth's surface including fires, ice, ocean color, vegetation, clouds, and land and sea surface temperatures, building on ongoing government climate data collection programs that began more than 25 years ago.

These zoomed images are portions of the larger image which was taken on Monday.

A view of the southern tip of Florida and the island of the Bahamas, Nassau, and Freeport on the right.
A view of the southern tip of Florida and the island of the Bahamas, Nassau, and Freeport on the right. NASA/NPP team

The Great Lakes region, with Detroit near the center, shows a portion of Lake Michigan through the clouds on the left, Lake Erie of the right, and Lake Huron at the top of the photo.
The Great Lakes region, with Detroit near the center, shows a portion of Lake Michigan through the clouds on the left, Lake Erie of the right, and Lake Huron at the top of the photo. NASA/NPP

This image of the Caribbean shows Honduras' Reserva Biologica Rio Platano and Parque National Kruta and Nicaragua's Reserva Natural Cabo Viejo Tela Sulumas.
This image of the Caribbean shows Honduras' Reserva Biologica Rio Platano and Parque National Kruta and Nicaragua's Reserva Natural Cabo Viejo Tela Sulumas.

On the left is a peninsula of Colombia, and the point on the right is Venezuela jutting out into the Carribbean.
On the left is a peninsula of Colombia, and the point on the right is Venezuela jutting out into the Carribbean. NASA/NPP

Canada's Bay of Fundy, and Nova Scotia on the right.
Canada's Bay of Fundy, and Nova Scotia on the right. NASA/NPP

About the author

James Martin is the staff photographer at CNET News, covering the geeks and gadgets of Silicon Valley. When he's not live-blogging the latest product launches from Apple, Google, or Facebook, James can be found exploring NASA, probing robotics labs, and getting behind-the-scenes with some of the Bay Area's most innovative thinkers.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Mac running slow?

Boost your computer with these five useful tips that will clean up the clutter.