Black Marble Earth

As the BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, notes

This [above] spectacular night-time view of Earth is called Black Marble.

It has been assembled from a series of cloud-free images acquired by one of the most capable satellites in the sky today – the Suomi spacecraft.

Here is the associated, wondrous, video from Nasa Explorer

This view of Earth at night is a cloud-free view from space as acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Satellite (Suomi NPP). A joint program by NASA and NOAA, Suomi NPP captured this nighttime image by the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The day-night band on VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as city lights, gas flares, and wildfires. This new image is a composite of data acquired over nine days in April and thirteen days in October 2012. It took 312 satellite orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of land surface.

This video uses the Earth at night view created by NASA’s Earth Observatory with data processed by NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center and combined with a version of the Earth Observatory’s Blue Marble: Next Generation.

Science at Nasa has more information.  And Nasa’s Earth Observatory has more images and video

Personally, I’m reminded of the view near the start of Star Trek: First Contact.  After the Borg have assimiliated the past/future Earth…  Enjoy!

, , , , , , , , , ,

  • Reader
  • Pete Baker


    The title refers to the detail picked out at Nasa’s Earth Observatory site – The Lights of London : Image of the Day.

    You’ve just linked directly to the associated downloadable large image.

  • Mick Fealty

    Great to have you and your science post back Pete… Sorry for the technical problems that cause the late arrival of your post…

  • Pete Baker

    Glad to be back, Mick.

    Though I’m not sure those technical problems have been resolved.

    But I found a work-around…

  • Kevsterino

    Spectacular pics, Pete. Good job bringing the science posts back.

  • Mick Fealty

    They’re not going to be any time soon I’m afraid…

  • Is that display able to show fires burning anywhere? Wouldn’t mention N.I., of course.

  • Pete Baker


    Watch, and listen to, the video.

  • Thanks, Pete. Finally got control of the sound system from my wife. The two things that struck me most were the difference between North and South Korea and the whole of the Nile showing in the midst of darkness.

  • Henry94

    It’s a wonderful video.

  • Greenflag

    Thanks Pete for highlighting this remarkable video .

    Fascinating I thought was the comparison between the lit up Earth and the galactic spread through the universe . Art ? Photography /Earthly nightime reality imitating Universal reality .

    @ Mister Joe – I noted that North Korea /South Korea contrast but I think I can guess at what time this was made by the orbiting satellite i.e 10 pm Central European Time .There are ‘cultural ‘clues’

    As the camera takes in Europe I could’nt help but notice how bright the North of Italy and surrounding areas were also Belgium /Netherlands whereas Germany looked in comparison somewhat dimmer than expected .

    I guess the Germans switch off their lights at 10pm and get a good nights sleep before the next GDP day whereas the Italians among others trip the light ‘fantastic’ for their evening post dinner strolls ?

    Yep it all adds up 😉

  • Greenflag

    And all of that light (Apart from those Australian bush fires ) was created by man . And man is but a small part of the biota (humans , animals , plants , bacteria etc) that lives on Earth . The total living matter on Earth is estimated to be .00000001 percent of the mass of the planet . Some 3% of all stars are accompanied by a potentially life supporting planet (the Goldilocks zone where water can exist) and thus if we assume that all potential life supporting planets do have life then the estimate for living ‘stuff’ that exists in the visible universe is something like .000000000000001 percent of all matter in the universe .

    So those who cling to the belief that some Cosmic Intelligence created the universe and thus life have to digest the thought that only one millionth of one billionth of 1 percent of matter is ‘alive’ -Life in the great scheme of the universe would seem to have been only an afterthought ? And Homo Sapiens ? an even lesser afterthought .

    If life emerges by random processes then vast amounts of lifeless material are needed for each particle of life .

    When we see the Earth as with the video above it should make us ‘proud ‘ as a species to have achieved so much but it should also force us to question our ‘significance ‘ in the universe and thus to cherish this small blue orb as the only ‘heaven ‘we’ll ever know in our brief lives .

  • Sad news. Sir Patrick Moore has died. Hope Pete does a blog on him.

  • Greenflag

    Indeed sad news Joe – A one off character and enthusiastic inspirer of many of the star struck and those who wanted to see the bigger picture .

    His ventures outside the astronomical world were at times controversial and he held views which seemed at odds with his cosmic nous .

    Nevertheless his lifelong contribution to expanding popular knowledge of astronomical knowledge and outer space will be his legacy .


  • carl marks

    Joe,yes Sir Patrick Moore will be missed, sad