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Tech / SPACE

Light in the Darkness: New Photos Released of Earth's Darkside -- PICTURES

photo of Kenneth Chamberlain
December 5, 2012

In the dark of night, there's always some light. Even without some artificial source, nature glows.

The glow -- artificial and natural -- can be seen in images from a new satellite, released on Wednesday by NASA at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

The NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite is designed to let researchers observe events that had been unseen or poorly seen by satellites dependent on sunlight. The satellite "is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea," according to NASA.

"The night is nowhere as dark as we might think," National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration researcher Steve Miller said, according to a NASA press release. And with the satellite, "we don't have to be in the dark anymore, either."

This image of Asia and Australia at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.(NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC)

NASA: The Earth at night.

A composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite.(NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC)


An image of continental United States at night.(NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC)

On Oct. 13, 2012, a camera on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of Egypt's Nile River Valley and Delta.(NASA Earth Observatory/Suomi NPP)

Another view of Earth’s city lights.(NASA Earth Observatory/Suomi NPP)

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