Earth’s city lights seen from space, with Malta & Gozo shining brightly

Email item Email item Print item Print item

Earth's city lights seen from space, with Malta shining brightlyThis image of Earth’s city lights was created with data from the Defence Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS). Originally designed to view clouds by moonlight, the OLS is also used to map the locations of permanent lights on the Earth’s surface.Earth's city lights seen from space, with Malta shining brightlyThe brightest areas of the Earth are the most urbanised, but not necessarily the most populated. (Compare western Europe with China and India.) Cities tend to grow along coastlines and transportation networks. Even without the underlying map, the outlines of many continents would still be visible.

The United States interstate highway system appears as a lattice connecting the brighter dots of city centres. In Russia, the Trans-Siberian railroad is a thin line stretching from Moscow through the centre of Asia to Vladivostok. The Nile River, from the Aswan Dam to the Mediterranean Sea, is another bright thread through an otherwise dark region.

Even more than 100 years after the invention of the electric light, some regions remain thinly populated and unlit. Antarctica is entirely dark. The interior jungles of Africa and South America are mostly dark, but lights are beginning to appear there.

Deserts in Africa, Arabia, Australia, Mongolia, and the United States are poorly lit as well (except along the coast), along with the boreal forests of Canada and Russia, and the great mountains of the Himalaya.

Data courtesy Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC. Images by Craig Mayhew and Robert Simmon, NASA GSFC.

  • Permalink: Earth’s city lights seen from space, with Malta & Gozo shining brightly
  • You may also like...

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *