Big Marble That We Call Home Sweet Home

NASA has shown us views of the Big Marble, the breathtakingly beautiful planet on which we live because it studies space and the Earth. The first Big Blue Marble photo was released in 1972 and each subsequent release of images have increased in quality so that the newest 2012 release of the Big Black Marble, or Earth at Night, are stunning.

The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite was launched last year by NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. It orbits 512 miles above our planet’s surface and has an extremely sensitive sensor that can detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth’s atmosphere. In fact, it can see the light given off from a single street light or one glowing light on a boat floating alone on the ocean. The VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) “carries a low-light sensor that can distinguish night lights with six times better spatial resolution and 250 times better resolution of lighting levels (dynamic range) than before.” NASA added, “A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.” So here is the series of the Big Marble in Old, New, Aqua, Blue, White and Black Marble. If you stop to think that this is our home, all of us regardless of where on the globe you are located, then it somehow seems possible that we could achieve peace on Earth around this holiday season for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Boxing Day. It also shows why we should protect our environment . . . it belongs to your children’s children and us all. Thank you NASA! You ROCK

“This image of North and South America 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 added, “The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29. Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.”

The “continental United States at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The image was made possible by the satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires and reflected moonlight.”

Black Marble – Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. NASA reported, “Unlike a camera that captures a picture in one exposure, the day-night band produces an image by repeatedly scanning a scene and resolving it as millions of individual pixels. Then, the day-night band reviews the amount of light in each pixel. If it is very bright, a low-gain mode prevents the pixel from oversaturating. If the pixel is very dark, the signal is amplified.” The Earth Observatory wrote of the night lights on our globe, “Scientists are using new images of Earth’s dark side to gain insight on human activity and poorly understood natural events.”

Black Marble Europe at night 2012. “For all the reasons that we need to see Earth during the day, we also need to see Earth at night,” said Steve Miller, a researcher at NOAA’s Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. “Unlike humans, the Earth never sleeps.”

Black Marble – Asia and Australia. On Out of the Blue and Into the Black, Miller is quoted as saying, “The night is nowhere near as dark as most of us think. In fact, the Earth is never really dark. And we don’t have to be in the dark about what is happening at night anymore either.”

Why is Western Australia So Bright? “Careful observers of the new ‘Black Marble’ images of Earth at night released this week by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have noticed bright areas in the western part of Australia that are largely uninhabited. Why is this area so lit up, many have asked?” The sensor on the satellite is so sensitive that it picked up wild fires at night.

The image above shows London and the southern half of Great Britain as it appeared on the night of March 27, 2012. NASA Earth Observatory

USA East Coast lights on Friday, June 29th, 2012. NASA Earth Observatory

Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012.

Black Marble – City Lights 2012. NASA’s Earth Observatory said, “Earth at Night 2012: It’s the end of the night as you know it; you’ll see fine.”

Black Marble 2012, Asia at night. NASA’s Earth Observatory wrote, “Away from human settlements, light still shines. Wildfires and volcanoes rage. Oil and gas wells burn like candles. Auroras dance across the polar skies. Moonlight and starlight reflect off the water, snow, clouds, and deserts. Even the air and ocean sometimes glow.”

Most Amazing High Definition Image of Earth – Blue Marble 2012.

The Blue Marble 2012 turned into a ‘White Marble’ with this snow and ice Arctic View. “Fifteen orbits of the recently launched Suomi NPP satellite provided the VIIRS instrument enough time (and longitude) to gather the pixels for this synthesized view of Earth showing the Arctic, Europe, and Asia.”

NASA Blue (Aqua) Marble 2007 West.

NASA Blue (Aqua) Marble 2007 East.

NASA’s Spacecraft View of Aurora Australis from Space. NASA file image acquired September 11, 2005.

Blue Marble – 2002.

Blue Marble 2002: At the time, “This spectacular ‘blue marble’ image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date.”

Blue Marble 2000.

Earth image and star field background, released in 2000.

First Blue Marble image captured from Apollo 17 on Dec 7, 1972. “View of the Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew traveling toward the moon. This translunar coast photograph extends from the Mediterranean Sea area to the Antarctica south polar ice cap. This is the first time the Apollo trajectory made it possible to photograph the south polar ice cap. Note the heavy cloud cover in the Southern Hemisphere. Almost the entire coastline of Africa is clearly visible. The Arabian Peninsula can be seen at the northeastern edge of Africa. The large island off the coast of Africa is the Malagasy Republic. The Asian mainland is on the horizon toward the northeast. Astronaut photograph AS17-148-22727 courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.”

What is your favorite…Old, New, Aqua, Blue, White or Black Marble? Blue Marble – Astronaut photograph 1972; Blue Marble 2002; Aqua Marble 2005; Bottom row left to right: Blue Marble 2012; White Marble 2012; Black Marble 2012. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center wrote, “Since we have escaped the bounds of gravity, visions of Earth have inspired and captured the imagination. Here are a few of the most iconic views of our planet returned by both living astronauts and robotic spacecraft in orbit throughout the space age.”