CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Bask in Earth's nighttime glow as seen from space

NASA and NOAA release a series of images of our planet's dazzling lights at night.

When the skies darken and the lights flicker on, the areas of Earth we populate gain a surreal glow that traces our existence in a breathtaking way.

A new series of photos released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's jointly-operated Suomi NPP satellite gives us a clearer view than ever before at our illuminated world during nighttime. Perhaps you could compare the view to a series of electrified blood vessels and arteries.

CNET photojournalist James Martin compiled a gallery of these stunning images from the aforementioned agencies that shows off the amazing electric show that comes from continents such as the suburban sprawl of North America to the blazing oil fields of the Middle East. The project, known as the "Black Marble," required 312 orbits and the extremely powerful Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor to capture 2.5 terabytes of pictures. Cloudless shots compiled from the massive amount of data was then sewn on to the classic 1994 'Blue Marble' imagery for the clearest glimpse of visible light at night seen yet.

You can tell the dramatic examples of how life differs from country to country in the series of photos, such as the sweeping darkness over the Midwest U.S. and the bright coastal areas, or the stark contrast of power usage between the dimly lit North Korea and the hyper-bright South Korea. Additionally, if you look closely at the picture of Australia, you'll notice half the continent lit up from the wildfires that occurred earlier this year.

What's your favorite angle of these amazing shots?