Stunning pictures of Earth at night

December 6, 2012

Almost 40 years to the day after the Apollo 17 crew snapped the famed

"blue marble" image of Earth floating in space on December 7, 1972, NASA

unveiled an unprecedented new look at our planet at night.

A global

composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new

NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite,

shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in

greater detail than ever before.

The cloud-free pictures, taken with a

high-resolution visible and infrared imager aboard a NASA and National

Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, capture the night

lights of Earth in unprecedented detail. The so-called day-night band of

the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, or VIIRS.