The Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS instrument captured this image of burn scars from the massive Thomas Fire that has been raging in southern California for the past two weeks. Since it began on December 4, 2017, the wildfire has charred more than 270,000 acres and has become the third-largest wildfire in California history. With little rain forecast over the coming week, the Thomas Fire may soon become the state's largest on record, according to media reports.
The Suomi NPP satellite captured this massive phytoplankton bloom just east of the Falkland Islands off the coast of southern Argentina on Dec. 28, 2017. Also known as microalgae, phytoplankton are microscopic, plant-like organisms that thrive in cold, nutrient-rich ocean waters and are an important food source for marine ecosystems. Like terrestrial plants, phytoplankton contain chlorophyll and require sunlight to live and grow.
So extensive, it is visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem. Stretching 2,300 km along Australia’s northeast coastline, this complex of shallow water reefs and islands is home to thousands of species of fish, invertebrates, algae, reptiles, birds, and algae. This image, taken by the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi NPP satellite on August 19, 2017 uses the high resolution SVI 3, 2, and 1 bands, commonly referred to as “natural color” RGB.
The Mississippi River Delta, the largest in the U.S., is a melange of the rivershed and its associated river and streambeds, farmland, urbanized areas, lakes, and estuaries. These disparate land types, all with different thermal signatures, create a complex of shades of green and blue in this multispectral RGB imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS sensor. Taken on October 8, 2016, using the SVI bands 4, 2, and 1, the plumes of sediment and coastal phytoplankton can also be seen along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Just south of the Libyan border in Chad, there is a visible scar in the sands of the Sahara Desert. The Tibesti Mountains, shown here in a VIIRS RGB composite taken on January 13, 2013 using the SVI bands 2,3, and 4, are the highest point in the Sahara. The visually darker colors and cooler surface temperatures of the mountain range, compared to the surrounding sands, creates contrast in this combination of thermal and visible imagery.
The border of Angola and Zambia features some dramatic geology, with bending rivers, vegetated riverbanks and barren plains. The thermal and visual disparities create even more dramatic differences in this thermal and visible composite RGB image from June 16, 2015 using the SVI bands 3, 2, and 4 from the VIIRS sensor on the Suomi NPP satellite.
Brazil is known for lush expanses of rainforests and other vegetated areas, however, closer inspection reveals the signature of man - clear cut forests in square patterns across the landscape. These areas have both a different thermal signature and visible color to the surrounding areas, and so they appear as vividly different colors in this thermal and visible RGB imagery. This particular image was created using SVI bands 1, 2 and 3 on April 30, 2016, from an area just east of the Pantanal Wetlands.
Primarily a salt flat in Australia, Lake Eyre floods occasionally during heavy periods of rainfall. However, because it is both the lowest point, usually a white color instead of the surrounding red desert of Australia, and highly reflective, it creates stunning composites using thermal imagery RGB composites. The results of these composites also change greatly over the course of seasons and years as surface temperatures change, and the lake experiences different water levels.
The Nile River, typically seen as a lush green river valley and delta amongst the sands of Africa, is seen here in violent red color - the result of swapping the band sensitive to green light of the VIIRS high resolution imaging band into the red component of this RGB composite image. This particular image uses channels SVI 2, 3, 4 to create the RGB composite, along with other color correction techniques.
While the USGS/NASA Landsat satellite mission has taken amazing images over the last 44 years, the satellite, with its high resolution but narrow swaths of detection covers Earth only every 16 days. Suomi NPP, on the other hand, covers Earth every day, also taking some pretty detailed images of the planet. This image, taken on July 24, 2014, shows swirls of plankton blooms in the Baltic Sea, reminiscent of the Landsat “Starry Night” image. This RGB color composite uses the satellite’s SVI1, SVM4, and SVI2 bands, each sensitive to different colors of light.