08:37 AM

USRA’s Earth from Space Institute Releases Black Marble Datasets to the Public

Columbia, MD—August 25, 2020. Scientists from Universities Space Research Association’s Earth from Space Institute officially released the much-awaited space-based NASA’s Black Marble Product Suite (VNP46A2) to the public. Black Marble is a one of a kind, science-quality satellite-derived nightlights dataset that is derived daily from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band onboard the Suomi-NPP satellite.

Nightlights data have changed the way we track urbanization, estimate GDP, monitor light pollution, implement disaster response, and even measure economic impacts of COVID-19 on urban areas. 

Today, urban areas have become a major driver of global environmental change, while also becoming critically vulnerable to the impacts of events such as sea level rise, storms, droughts, and heat waves, amplified by climate change. As such, urban and sub-urban areas are the focus of disaster management, sustainability planning and policies, and environmental research at the national and global level. The release of Black Marble VNP46A2—now free, open, and downloadable—benefits each and all of these efforts, enabling better understanding and care of our Planet while supporting sustainable socioeconomic development for our generation and those who will follow.

Black Marble view of Earth at Night. Image credit: NASA/EfSI/USRA

The Black Marble Dataset release is the culmination of 8 years of rigorous and hard work, during which researchers have developed algorithms to remove cloud-contaminated pixels, correct for atmospheric conditions, terrain, snow, and stray light effects, and most notably to remove the effect of moonlight. By removing these effects, Black Marble data can be used effectively to observe changes in urban areas across the globe. The product is calibrated across time, validated against ground measurements, and includes quality indicators so that it can be used effectively to track changes across time. The Black Marble data provide a novel view of Earth at Night to study the interactions between human activity and the environment.

This dataset will be disseminated broadly and used to answer pressing questions about the sustainability of urbanization and resilience of cities in the wake of environmental hazards. To aid in the dissemination, even to novice users of satellite data, the research team is preparing to offer a webinar training on the VNP46A2 product and its current and future potential applications.

Related Resources:  https://arset.gsfc.nasa.gov/webinars. A training webinar on the use of Black Marble data is scheduled for December 2020 and will be listed on the NASA ARSET website once a date is finalized. The training will offer VNP46A2 product capabilities, proper usages, and overview of some applications.


For more information visithttps://blackmarble.gsfc.nasa.gov/