Next Article in Journal
A Space View of Radar Archaeological Marks: First Applications of COSMO-SkyMed X-Band Data
Next Article in Special Issue
Estimating Land Development Time Lags in China Using DMSP/OLS Nighttime Light Image
Previous Article in Journal
An Improved Top-Hat Filter with Sloped Brim for Extracting Ground Points from Airborne Lidar Point Clouds
Previous Article in Special Issue
Aladdin’s Magic Lamp: Active Target Calibration of the DMSP OLS
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Remote Sens. 2015, 7(1), 1-23; doi:10.3390/rs70100001

High-Resolution Imagery of Earth at Night: New Sources, Opportunities and Challenges

Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 310, 12587 Berlin, Germany
Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Institute for Space Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Carl-Heinrich-Becker Weg 6-10, 12165 Berlin, Germany
Dept. Astrofísica y CC. de la Atmósfera, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Avda. Complutense s/n, Madrid 28040, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christopher D. Elvidge and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 12 September 2014 / Accepted: 15 December 2014 / Published: 23 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing with Nighttime Lights)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [10987 KB, uploaded 23 December 2014]   |  


Images of the Earth at night are an exceptional source of human geographical data, because artificial light highlights human activity in a way that daytime scenes do not. The quality of such imagery dramatically improved in 2012 with two new spaceborne detectors. The higher resolution and precision of the data considerably expands the scope of possible applications. In this paper, we introduce the two new data sources and discuss their potential limitations using three case studies. Data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite Day-Night Band (VIIRS DNB) is shown to have sufficient resolution to identify major sources of waste light, such as airports, and we find considerable variation in the peak radiance of the world’s largest airports. Nighttime imagery brings “cultural footprints” to light: DNB data reveals that American cities emit many times more light per capita than German cities and that cities in the former East of Germany emit more light per capita than those in the former West. Photographs from the International Space Station, the second new source of imagery, provide some limited spectral information, as well as street-level resolution. These images may be of greater use for epidemiological studies than the lower resolution DNB data. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial light; energy; international space station; light pollution; night; remote sensing; visible band artificial light; energy; international space station; light pollution; night; remote sensing; visible band

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Kyba, C.C.M.; Garz, S.; Kuechly, H.; de Miguel, A.S.; Zamorano, J.; Fischer, J.; Hölker, F. High-Resolution Imagery of Earth at Night: New Sources, Opportunities and Challenges. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 1-23.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Remote Sens. EISSN 2072-4292 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top