NASA releases new ‘night lights’ images showing full hemisphere views of the Earth at night
NASA has released incredible new maps showing full hemisphere views of Earth at night.
Known as “night lights” these images have been a public curiosity and also an important research tool for 25 years.
However these latest images provide a startling new look at the planet.
The remarkable pictures illustrating the clearest view we have had of the patterns of human settlement across the planet, how we have shaped the planet on which we live and how we have lit it up.
According to NASA, a team headed up by Earth scientist Miguel Román is close to being able to provide “daily, high-definition views of Earth at night” using data from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.
Such data is expected to be released in full later in the year.
But for now NASA has released amazing global composite maps of night lights as observed last year.
The accuracy of the images have greatly improved as Román and his team eradicate sources of “extraneous light” such as different phases of the moon, clouds, snow and ice cover, and atmospheric emissions.
“We can now monitor short-term changes caused by disturbances in power delivery, such as conflict, storms, earthquakes and brownouts,” said Román.
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“We can monitor cyclical changes driven by re-occurring human activities such as holiday lighting and seasonal migrations.
“We can also monitor gradual changes driven by urbanisation, out-migration, economic changes, and electrification.
“The fact that we can track all these different aspects at the heart of what defines a city is simply mind-boggling.”
The images could also have implications for the fight against global warming.