SRI Blog

“Black Marble”: Stunning Views of the Earth at Night

This composite image of the world, called the “Black Marble,” was taken with the day-night band of NASA’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). The day-night band sensor in the instrument was designed and developed by SRI using the latest extended dynamic range charge-coupled device (CCD) technology that can capture the finest details, even in low-light conditions.

Stunning images such as this one allow us to study in detail the impact of global climate change. Atmospheric scientists can use this new capability to observe and catalog changes that were once lost to darkness, such as weather patterns and clouds at night. The technology can help scientists to observe active wildfires, vegetation and ocean color changes.

View more Black Marble images on NASA's website.

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South America and Africa are almost completely unlit. Australia, surprising to me, is also mostly unlit. Canada was another surprise. India was a surprise to me on how lit up it was. I think you could overlay dollars or the per capita wealth on the map and see where most of the money is.

Adele Leone

Really very beautiful and marvelous.

Juan N Walterspiel MD FAAP