We’ve discussed the impressive “blue marble” overlay here on GEB a few times. It’s a beautiful overlay that makes Google Earth look awesome. The “pretty earth” update earlier this year made it much less important, but it’s still a fun overlay to play with.
Now NASA has released the “black marble” — an amazing view of the earth covered in darkness with only city lights glowing.
Here’s how they did it:
This new global view and animation of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. It took satellite 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery to provide a realistic view of the planet.