Google Maps Adds NASA Nighttime Satellite Imagery - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Software // Information Management
01:10 PM
Connect Directly

Google Maps Adds NASA Nighttime Satellite Imagery

Google, NASA and the NOAA have released high resolution nighttime satellite images that illuminate everything from cities to ships at sea.

NASA Mars Mission: No Little Green Men -- Yet
NASA Mars Mission: No Little Green Men -- Yet
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Less than a week ago, NASA released "Black Marble," a set of high-resolution images of the Earth at night, illuminated by the electric lights of cities worldwide. Already, thanks to a partnership between Google and government agencies, people can explore the imagery in Google Maps.

The imagery released by NASA last week was collected by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite during 312 orbits of Earth over 22 days in April and October 2012, and then composited and mapped over NASA's high-resolution Blue Marble Next Generation imagery.

Although users won't be able to zoom down to the street level like they can in Google Street View and the satellite view of the standard Google Maps, they can zoom down to the city level, which enables viewing of gas flares produced by oil and gas drilling and exploration in North Dakota and the Middle East, wildfires in Australia, boats crowding the Nile River in Egypt and the lights of New York City and London.

Google announced the collaboration with NASA Earth Observatory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Geophysical Data Center, which Google is calling Earth at Night 2012, in a post Monday on Google+.

[ Read 11 Cool Tools NASA Curiosity Brought To Mars. ]

NASA also has released its own interactive version of the imagery overlaid onto a map as part of NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System's (EOSDIS) Worldview tool. Worldview, first released to the Web in July, includes up-to-date satellite imagery and overlay data from 50 different data streams.

Suomi NPP, operated out of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, has sent vast amounts of scientific data and imagery -- particularly climate imagery -- to NASA since its launch in October 2011. Other recent nighttime observations include images of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, images of wildfires in the Western United States in July and images of power outages in Washington, D.C., after a freak summer storm.

Suomi NPP's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) is so sensitive that it can pick up light from a single ship at sea, and is an improvement over past satellites that could pick up nighttime images.

According to NASA, scientists will be able to use the data from VIIRS and Suomi NPP more generally to study a long list of topics, including climatology, population movement, auroras, bioluminescence and the extent of arctic ice.

Suomi NPP is also responsible for NASA's most recent 86,400-pixel-by-43,200-pixel Blue Marble imagery, which is composed of daytime images from VIIRS. NASA has been taking satellite images of Earth since 1960, but the recent Blue Marble and Black Marble series are some of the highest resolution images yet released.

Join Cloud Connect for a free webcast with "Cloudonomics" author Joe Weinman. Cloudonomics is a new way to discuss the benefits of private clouds. Many have focused on the cost reduction possibilities while others have focused on business agility. However, private clouds can play a strategic role, as well. The Cloudonomics webcast happens Dec. 12. (Free registration required.)

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Pandemic Responses Make Room for More Data Opportunities
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  5/4/2021
10 Things Your Artificial Intelligence Initiative Needs to Succeed
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/20/2021
Transformation, Disruption, and Gender Diversity in Tech
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  5/6/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Planning Your Digital Transformation Roadmap
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Flash Poll