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NASA releases its latest Global maps of Earth at Night, provides clearest patterns of Human Settlement across the Planet

Earth. Pixabay

Washington, April 13, 2017: NASA has released its latest 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 — often referred to as “night lights” — have been a tool for fundamental research for nearly 25 years.

They have provided a broad, beautiful picture, showing how humans have shaped the planet and lit up the darkness.

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By studying Earth at night, researchers can investigate how cities expand, monitor light intensity to estimate energy use and economic activity, and aid in disaster response.

These maps are generally produced every decade or so. But NASA’s new global map of Earth at night, as observed in 2016, has been released this week just five years after the such map was released in 2012.

A research team led by Earth scientist Miguel Roman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, plans to find out this year what would happen if night lights imagery could be updated yearly, monthly or even daily.

In the years since the 2011 launch of the NASA-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, Roman and colleagues have been analysing night lights data and developing new software and algorithms to make night lights imagery clearer, more accurate and readily available.

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, NASA said. (IANS)

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NASA’s instrument to measure Sun’s energy

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer -- Earth's natural sunscreen

NASA to release two missions focused on moon soon in 2022. Pixabay
NASA's new instrument can measure incoming solar energy. Pixabay
  • NASA’s new instrument can measure Sun’s incoming energy
  • The instrument is called Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1)
  • This can help bring in an energy revolution in future

To continue long-term measurements of the Sun’s incoming energy, NASA has powered on a new instrument installed on the International Space Station (ISS).

Solar energy is one of the biggest energy sources in the world.

The instrument, Total and Spectral solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS-1), became fully operational with all instruments collecting science data as of this March, NASA said.

“TSIS-1 extends a long data record that helps us understand the Sun’s influence on Earth’s radiation budget, ozone layer, atmospheric circulation, and ecosystems, and the effects that solar variability has on the Earth system and climate change,” said Dong Wu, TSIS-1 project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. TSIS-1 studies the total amount of light energy emitted by the Sun using the Total Irradiance Monitor, one of two sensors onboard.

Also Read: Why is the Sun’s atmosphere much hotter than its surface

This sensor’s data will give scientists a better understanding of Earth’s primary energy supply and provide information to help improve models simulating the planet’s climate.

The second onboard sensor, called the Spectral Irradiance Monitor, measures how the Sun’s energy is distributed over the ultraviolet, visible and infrared regions of light. Measuring the distribution of the Sun’s energy is important because each wavelength of light interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere differently.

Measuring solar energy is one big technological developement. Pixabay

For instance, spectral irradiance measurements of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation are critical to understanding the ozone layer — Earth’s natural sunscreen that protects life from harmful radiation.

“All systems are operating within their expected ranges,” said Peter Pilewskie, TSIS-1 lead scientist at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in the US. IANS

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