Just in time for Earth Day, NOAA incorporated beautiful True Color data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument into the NOAA View portal. True Color imagery uses different wavelengths of light detected by the instrument to create a close approximation of how Earth appears to the human eye. VIIRS currently flies on board the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite, and will operate on the future Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft.
Although it is not actual photography, the imagery is like looking at a picture of Earth. NOAA scientists use 10 of the VIIRS’ 21 channels to create photorealistic images of the planet. These and other channels can be combined to make composites that are also used for a wide range of applications, including differentiating snow and ice from clouds, ash and smoke from clouds, and even the boundaries between warm and cold air masses. All of these capabilities play a role in developing weather forecasts that can save lives.
The volumes of data generated by the Suomi NPP are huge—the satellite produces approximately 3.5 terabytes of data per day. The public can access the data through NOAA’s Comprehensive Large Array-Data Stewardship (CLASS) website, which is home to more than 1.32 petabytes of data from the satellite. For a better understanding of this volume of data, 1.32 petabytes of data is equal to the amount that could be stored on 82,500 (16GB) smartphones. Suomi NPP data are used by NOAA weather forecasters and research scientists as they study severe weather, atmospheric and oceanographic phenomena and climate variability.
This True Color view of North America depicts weather moving across the continent. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the NOAA/NASA Suomi NPP satellite captured this stunning image. Download here. (CREDIT: NOAA VisLab)
The NOAA View portal is an educational tool that provides a single point for experiencing beautiful imagery and other environmental data captured by satellites and other observational and analysis platforms. NOAA View brings together more than 60 different sets of data, some even as far back as 1880, with new data sets being added regularly. Content is updated on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis as data observations and collections permit.
In addition to the True Color data from VIIRS, examples of other NOAA View data contents include: wind speed, coral bleaching, ice cover, vegetation, precipitation, and views of the Earth at night. NOAA View lets users manipulate the display to change views of the world, data inputs and periods of time to observe the Earth.
NOAA View is compatible with all major internet browsers, as well as Apple and Android mobile devices. Users can browse, animate and download high-resolution imagery from the NOAA Visualization Lab, making it an ideal tool for putting NOAA data into the hands of students in classrooms and the general public around the world. To see this beautiful True Color imagery visit www.nnvl.noaa.gov/true.php, or visit the NOAA View portal at www.nnvl.noaa.gov/view.