Scientists have dubbed it The Black Marble, but new images from NASA show just how much light is emitted from our planet at night. The pictures, taken by the Suomi NPP satellite, show both light coming from natural sources as well as the lights made by man, from the twinkling lights on fishing boats at sea to the vast illuminated arteries and organs of civilization, the images turning our world into an amazing galaxy.
Improved spatial resolution and dynamic-range lighting levels have made these photos possible. The Suomi NPP also has a Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, which can detect all lights–even down to one isolated highway lamp, says NASA. “Our planet comes alive with light,” says the commentary on the video, which shows amazing detail–even forest fires raging in Australia show up, and the sheer number of vessels on the Nile River turn it into an urban freeway.