NASA's "Blue Marble"
Our cover image is a "Blue Marble" image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s recently launched Earth-observing satellite, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite (NPP). The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (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 (shown here), and Australian views 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 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. In other words, 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.