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December 6 2012

The Black Marble: The entirety of human civilization, as seen from outer space

The Black Marble 2012 was captured by Suomi, a NASA/NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather satellite that was launched last year to give us a better view of the Earth’s atmosphere. Suomi has a polar orbit at an altitude of 824km (512mi) — resulting in around 14 orbits of the Earth every day, with Suomi passing over any given point on Earth at 1:30am and 1:30pm every day.

Suomi has a bunch of imaging instruments, but in this case the Black Marble was captured using the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS is sensitive to 22 different bands of radiation, allowing it to capture as much information as possible about the atmospheric conditions here on Earth.

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