Nighttime Lights - 2012

Nighttime Lights - 2012 thumbnail


Earth at Night has been an SOS-user favorite dataset for many years. Black Marble 2012 is the newest version of the spectacular view of our planet from near-Earth orbit at night, which is the result of a partnership between NOAA, NASA, and the Department of Defense.

Lights sparkle across the dark planet, tracing roads and political boundaries, revealing areas where use of electric power is expanding and those where storms have knocked out power, and highlighting the locations of brightly-lit fishing fleets. It is possible to detect clouds illuminated by moonlight, lights from cities and towns, industrial sites, gas flares, fires, lightning, and aurora.

This remarkable view of our planet comes from an instrument on the NOAA-NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, and is the result of careful work by scientists and visual experts at the two agencies and academic collaborators.

More images can be seen at NASA Earth Observatory.

Notable Features

  • Nile River outlined by lights
  • Eastern U.S. highly populated
  • Major highways outlined by lights
  • Trans-Siberian Railway outlined by lights
  • North Korea appears dark, an anomaly to the bright, densely populated regions

Related Datasets