City Lights United States of America
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We've already brought you incredible pics from the geniuses at NASA. Blue Marble—all three of our special editions—reveal Earth in all its exquisite detail, drawing our eye to the geography of our planet. The Black Marble editions highlight a much more fragile and impermanent feature: us. "Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights," says Chris Elvidge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The Black Marble images (so popular that NASA created a new app, Worldview) were collected over nine days in April 2012, and 13 days in October 2012, by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP), a civilian satellite that makes data available to scientists on Earth within minutes. The final composite photograph is the product of 312 orbits around the earth. The sensor is so responsive that it can detect a single ship in the ocean. The light is a mix of manmade structures and natural phenomena like volcanoes and atmospheric glow.
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