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NASA releases global maps of ‘night light’ on Earth

India shining:A view of India from space at night. The clouds and sun glint have been added for effect.NASA

India shining:A view of India from space at night. The clouds and sun glint have been added for effect.NASA  

NASA scientists have released new global maps of Earth at night, providing the clearest yet composite view of the patterns of human settlement across our planet.

Satellite images of Earth at night have been a source of curiosity for public and a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years.

Now, a research team led by scientist Miguel Roman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in the U.S. plans to find out if “night lights” imagery could be updated yearly, monthly or even daily.

In the years since the 2011 launch of the NASA–NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, researchers have been analysing night lights data and developing new software and algorithms to make night lights imagery clearer. They are now on the verge of providing daily, high definition views of Earth at night, and are targeting the release of such data to the science community later this year. The new global composite map of night lights was observed in 2016.

NASA is now automating the processing of images.

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