The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (Suomi NPP) captured the image to the right on a rare clear night across Northern Europe, Britain and Ireland.
The image from March 27, 2012, shows the dense concentration of light around the Olympic host city of London, as well as other major cities such as Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam.
A careful observer should be able to discern the lights of such Olympic venues as the Lee Valey White Water Center, the rowing and canoeing site of Eton Dorney and the sailing site of Portland Harbour.
The image was made possible by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite orbiting aboard Suomi NPP.
The day-night band sensors observe light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared, and are made more vivid by a light intensification system capable to collecting information from dim sources.
“There are a lot of satellites up there with sensitivity to this same range, but the special thing about the day/night band is its high sensitivity to very low amounts of this light,” said Steve Miller, a researcher in the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. “It can sense light 100,000 times fainter than the conventional visible light sensors.”
Suomi NPP was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 28, 2011, and is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense.
Full story and image: NASA