Nasa logo NASA's Black Marble

Advancing the Science of Earth at Night

About

At night, satellite images of Earth capture a uniquely human signal--artificial lighting. Remotely-sensed lights at night provide a new data source for improving our understanding of interactions between human systems and the environment. NASA has developed the Black Marble, a daily calibrated, corrected, and validated product suite, so nightlight data can be used effectively for scientific observations. Black Marble is playing a vital role in research on light pollution, illegal fishing, fires, disaster impacts and recovery, and human settlements and associated energy infrastructures.

Data Creation
Black Marble Science

Black Marble’s standard science processing removes cloud-contaminated pixels and corrects for atmospheric, terrain, vegetation, snow, lunar, and stray light effects on the VIIRS Day/Night Band (DNB) radiances. The products are calibrated across time, validated against ground measurements, and include quality indicators so that they can be used effectively in science and applications studies. A detailed description of key algorithm enhancements can be found here

Applications

NASA’s Black Marble enables a wide range of applications for a broad spectrum of data users. Along with their primary purpose of supporting the short-term weather prediction and disaster response communities, they also provide new data for tracking wildfires, gas flares, and light pollution, and have numerous socioeconomic uses, such as proxying economic activity, monitoring changes in energy infrastructure in urban areas, and providing a data to humanitarian organizations in conflict areas. A number of sources contribute to the nighttime environment, including city lights, lightning, fishing fleet navigation lights, gas flares, lava flows, and even auroras. When partial to full illumination from the moon is available, reflection of this lunar illumination off of ice, snow, and other highly reflective surfaces enable the study of ocean and terrestrial features.

Instrument

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument is a component of the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite. VIIRS consists of 22 spectral bands from the ultra-violet to the mid-infrared, one of which is able to observe nighttime lights, the day night band (DNB). DNB is a panchromatic band sensitive to visible and near-infrared wavelengths. Detailed design specs for VIIRS instrument can be found here.

VIIRS Instrument
Product

Black Marble Daily Level 3 Products include the daily at-sensor top of atmosphere (TOA) nighttime radiance product (VNP46A1), and the daily moonlight-adjusted nighttime lights (NTL) product (VNP46A2)

The VNP46A1 Daily At-sensor TOA Nighttime Radiance Product
The VNP46A2 Daily Moonlight-adjusted Nighttime Lights (NTL) Product
Media

Black Start 2019: Mapping Puerto Rico’s Recovery Through Satellite Data

2018 AGU Fall Meeting Press Conference: Puerto Rico one year later

Geo4Dev Symposium: The Role of #NASAEarthData in Strengthening Community Resilience

NASA / Texas Instruments Virtual Field Trip: Earth at Night

Library of Congress Seminar: Holiday Lights Show from Space

Facebook Live: A Look Inside The Most Power Storms of 2017

#ScienceinSeconds with Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen

2014 AGU Fall Meeting Press Conference: NASA Sees Holiday Lights from Space

M. O. Román, Eleanor C. Stokes, Ranjay Shrestha, Zhuosen Wang, Lori Schultz, Edil A. Sepúlveda Carlo, Qingsong Sun, Jordan Bell, Andrew Molthan, Virginia Kalb, Chuanyi Ji, Karen C. Seto, Shanna N. McClain, and Markus Enenkel. 2019. "Satellite-based assessment of electricity restoration efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria." PLoS ONE 14 (6) [ doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0218883]

Wang, Z., M. O. Román, Q. Sun, A. L. Molthan, L. A. Schultz, and V. L. Kalb. 2018. "Monitoring Disaster-Related Power Outages Using NASA Black Marble Nighttime Light Product." ISPRS - International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences XLII-3 1853-1856 [ doi:10.5194/isprs-archives-xlii-3-1853-2018]

Román, M. O., Z. Wang, Q. Sun, V. Kalb, S. D. Miller, A. Molthan, L. Schultz, J. Bell, E. C. Stokes, B. Pandey, K. C. Seto, D. Hall, T. Oda, R. E. Wolfe, G. Lin, N. Golpayegani, S. Devadiga, C. Davidson, S. Sarkar, C. Praderas, J. Schmaltz, R. Boller, J. Stevens, O. M. Ramos Gonzalez, E. Padilla, J. Alonso, Y. Detrés, R. Armstrong, I. Miranda, Y. Conte, N. Marrero, K. MacManus, T. Esch, and E. J. Masuoka. 2018. "NASA’s Black Marble nighttime lights product suite." Remote Sensing of Environment 210 113-143 [ doi:10.1016/j.rse.2018.03.017]

Cole, T., D. Wanik, A. Molthan, M. Román, and R. Griffin. 2017. "Synergistic Use of Nighttime Satellite Data, Electric Utility Infrastructure, and Ambient Population to Improve Power Outage Detections in Urban Areas." Remote Sensing 9 (3): 286 [ doi:10.3390/rs9030286]

Román, M. O., and E. C. Stokes. 2015. "Holidays in lights: Tracking cultural patterns in demand for energy services." Earth’s Future 3 (6): 182-205 [ doi:10.1002/2014ef000285]

People

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Miguel Román, USRA

mroman@usra.edu

Virginia Kalb, NASA GSFC

virginia.l.kalb@nasa.gov

SCIENCE TEAM

Zhuosen Wang, UMD/NASA GSFC

zhuosen.wang@nasa.gov

Eleanor Stokes, UMD/NASA GSFC

eleanor.stokes@nasa.gov

Ranjay Shrestha, SSAI/NASA GSFC

ranjay.m.shrestha@nasa.gov

DISASTER COORDINATORS

Tian Yao, SSAI/NASA GSFC

tian.yao@nasa.gov

COLLABORATORS

Karen C. Seto, Yale University

karen.seto@yale.edu

Kytt MacManus, Columbia University

kmacmanu@ciesin.columbia.edu