Data from Raytheon Company's (RTN) Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite has been used to create a series of nighttime images of the Earth that NASA is calling "an order of magnitude more detailed" than previous images.
These images, including the "Black Marble" view of the entire globe, were obtained using the VIIRS day-night band, which enables visible-like imagery of Earth in extremely low-light conditions. VIIRS has been providing weather forecasters and climate scientists outstanding imagery in 22 spectral bands since its 2011 launch aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite - Suomi NPP. A joint program by NASA and NOAA, Suomi NPP circles Earth in a polar orbit about 14 times a day.
"VIIRS was designed to provide a new level of data for tracking global weather and climate patterns, and the day-night band is a great example of the improvements the system brings to Earth monitoring," said Warren Flynn, director of Environmental Sensing for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business. "For example, during major weather events like Hurricane Sandy, the VIIRS day-night band can allow meteorologists to better predict the storm's path and severity throughout the night hours and provide relief workers invaluable information on the extent of power outages after the storm has passed."
Raytheon is currently manufacturing a second VIIRS instrument that will fly on the Joint Polar Satellite System-1 spacecraft, the successor to Suomi NPP. That work continues on track for completion in 2014.
The Black Marble and other images using the VIIRS day-night band can be found here.
Raytheon Company, with 2011 sales of $25 billion and 71,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 90 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter @raytheon.