The Suomi NPP satellite is in a polar orbit around Earth at an altitude of 512 miles (about 824 kilometers), but the perspective of the new Eastern hemisphere 'Blue Marble' is from 7,918 miles (about 12,743 kilometers). NASA scientist Norman Kuring managed to 'step back' from Earth to get the big picture by combining data from six different orbits of the Suomi NPP satellite. Or putting it a different way, the satellite flew above this area of Earth six times over an eight hour time period. Norman took those six sets of data and combined them into one image.
The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS is the primary imaging instrument onboard NPP, and it acquires data in 22 spectral bands covering visible, near-infrared, and thermal infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Eastern, Western, and Australian views above were created by NASA scientist Norman Kuring. They are composite images using a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The Arctic composite was collected on May 26, 2012 from the OceanColor group at Goddard/NASA.
Scientists unveiled today an unprecedented new look at our planet at night. A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from the the VIIRS instrument, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.
These images show season-long composites of ocean chlorophyll concentrations derived from visible radiometric measurements made by the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP. This false-colored image makes the data stand out. The purple and blue colors represent lower chlorophyll concentrations. The oranges and reds represent higher chlorophyll concentrations. These differences in color indicate areas with lesser or greater phytoplankton biomass.