India during Diwali
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS Day-Night Band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP).

NASA, the national space agency of the US, released on Thursday a satellite image that gave a spectacular view of India on a November night. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured the black and white image of India on Nov 12, a day before Diwali.

"On November 12, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of southern Asia. The image is based on data collected by the VIIRS "day-night band," which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared. The image has been brightened to make the city lights easier to distinguish," NASA said. 

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS Day-Night Band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP).
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using VIIRS Day-Night Band data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP).

Most of the bright areas in the satellite imagery are cities and towns of India, according to the space agency. Several cities of neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan are also seen in the image.

"An image that claims to show the region lit for Diwali has been circulating on social media websites and the Internet in recent years. In fact, it does not show what it claims.

That image, based on data from the Operational Linescan System flown on US Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites, is a colour-composite created in 2003 by NOAA scientist Chris Elvidge to highlight population growth over time," NASA said.

Apart from India, NASA has also released a series of images of Earth at night. The images were captured by a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite.

"For all the reasons that we need to see Earth during the day, we also need to see Earth at night," said Steve Miller, a researcher at NOAA's Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere. "Unlike humans, the Earth never sleeps."

This image of the continental United States at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. (NASA)
This image of the continental United States at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. (NASA)
Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
Composite map of the world assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC