Blue Marble

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National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite

NASA launched the $1.5 billion Suomi NPP satellite in October 2011 on a mission to help monitor Earth's weather and natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, wildfires and floods. The Suomi NPP satellite beams about 4 terabytes of data to Earth every day. That's enough photos of Earth to fill 800 DVDs. Image Courtesy: www.space.com

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National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite
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Size and Use

The minivan-size spacecraft is the first of its kind: an Earth-observing satellite built to collect data for both short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate models. Image Courtesy: www.space.com

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Size and Use
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Clear Picture

The latest photo and the sharpest view yet of the Eastern Hemisphere as it appeared on Jan 23. The continent of Africa dominates the view, with the Middle East and Asia stretching up toward the top of the frame. The Arctic is missing because it is too dark to view in visible light during the winter. Image Courtesy: www.ouramazingplanet.com

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Clear Picture
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Single pic of the whole planet

The Suomi NPP satellite photographs the Earth from about 512 miles (824 kilometers) in a polar orbit (a path that passes over the North and South Poles). While that orbit seems high, it is still not high enough to fit the entire Earth in a single camera frame. Image Courtesy: www.ouramazingplanet.com

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Single pic of the whole planet
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Orbit path for photography

The NPP satellite is placed in a Sun synchronous orbit, a unique path that takes the satellite over the equator at the same local time in every orbit. When NPP flies over Kenya, it is about 1:30 p.m. on the ground. When NPP reaches Gabon, about 3,000 kilometers to the west on the next orbit, it is close to 1:30 p.m. on the ground. This allows the satellite to maintain the same angle between the Earth and the Sun so that all images have similar lighting. Image Courtesy: www.physorg.com

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Orbit path for photography
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Blue Marble picture

So to make the whole Earth images, NASA scientist Norman Kuring combined Suomi NPP observations of the same parts of the planet taken over six different orbits, over the terrain during an eight-hour period. Kuring then stitched the data into a complete mosaic, creating one huge image of Earth. Image Courtesy: www.mpinteractiv.ro

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Blue Marble picture
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VIIRS - Visible Infrared Radiometer Imaging Suite instrument

The extreme clarity of the Blue Marble photos comes from Suomi NPP's Visible Infrared Radiometer Imaging Suite (VIIRS) instrument, which is a high-resolution sensor package designed to observe Earth in different ranges of the light spectrum. The VIIRS instrument is the biggest and most important tool riding aboard the Suomi NPP satellite. It is designed to measure ocean color, surface temperature, fires on Earth, cloud distribution, etc. Image Courtesy: www.spie.org

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VIIRS - Visible Infrared Radiometer Imaging Suite instrument
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Long term use.

The Suomi NPP satellite is named after the late meteorologist Verner E. Suomi, who has been hailed as the father figure of satellite meteorology. The spacecraft is expected to observe the Earth through at least 2016. The mission is conducted under a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense. Image Courtesy: www.aerospace.firetrench.com

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Long term use.
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