Data from Raytheon Company's (NYSE: 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.
Source: Raytheon Corporation (NYSE: RTN)
Date: Dec 6, 2012