Last Updated: 12/05/2012*

First there was “Blue Marble 2012” – a stunning image of Earth taken from space by Raytheon’s new Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. Then came the “White Marble” – an unprecedented view of the planet’s North Pole.

The northeastern United States at night, using the VIIRS instrument's day-night band

Iconic Blue Marble, White Marble and Black Marble images taken from our VIIRS sensor aboard the Suomi NPP satellite.

Now VIIRS has made history again with striking night-vision images of the entire Earth.

The new images were made using VIIRS’ unique Day/Night Band sensor, which can capture images in extremely low light.

Earlier satellite pictures only show the pinpricks of light created by electric illumination. But VIIRS can capture low-light imagery with far greater detail, allowing it to photograph terrain, clouds, bodies of water and other features at night.

“With VIIRS, we are establishing a new baseline for nighttime and low light imagery,” said Warren Flynn, Raytheon’s director of Environmental Sensing.

Since its launch aboard the Suomi NPP satellite in 2011, VIIRS has used its day/night capability to capture striking images of Hurricane Sandy at night, London before the 2012 summer Olympics and India during the Diwali festival.

VIIRS generates data in 22 spectral bands, giving scientists unprecedented ways of looking at Earth. The information helps improve weather forecasting and disaster planning.

“It’s very satisfying to be associated with this, to see our work and our technology being used to create a new perspective of our planet,” said Eric Jacobson, a technical lead for the Day/Night Band sensors. “Knowing that we’re helping to better predict storms and alert the public is a source of pride for me.”

An image of Hurricane Funso, as seen from VIIRS on the Suomi NPP satellite.

An image of Tropical Storm Funso, as seen from VIIRS on the Suomi NPP satellite.

You can join Raytheon’s daily countdown to the live unveiling, relive the excitement of the VIIRS “Blue Marble” imagery and see a visual history of iconic “blue marble” photos by following @Raytheon on Twitter. Visitors to Raytheon.com will be able to download a wallpaper and screensaver of the new image after it is revealed.

For more information about VIIRS and to see a slideshow of images produced by the Suomi NPP satellite, click here.

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