The after-effects of another winter storm are seen in this NOAA-20 satellite image. It shows a swath of snowfall left by the storm across the midwestern United States.
Although the black and white rendering may not be as immediately captivating as a colorful, art-like, remote-sensing image, for me it’s just as dazzling. That’s because the satellite was able to see the swath of snow at night, with just the faint illumination of moonlight to reveal its presence — from 22,000 miles (35,000 km) away.
Seeing in the night from space is made possible by a special sensor aboard the NOAA-20 satellite called the “Day/Night Band.” It’s designed to capture relatively faint light from natural and artificial sources, such as city lights, ships, fires, flaring from energy operations, and lightning — as well as features illuminated by moonlight.
In the image, the winter storm track, as revealed by the swath of snow, culminates in the glowing metropolitan area of Chicago along Lake Michigan. Lights from other cities, and roads linking them, also stand out, as do lake-effect clouds over the Great Lakes.
This image was originally published by the CIMSS Satellite Blog, as part of their own 2022 highlights post. Click here to see all of those marvelous images. Over the years, they’ve graciously let me use many of their satellite images and animations, and I’m very grateful for that.
In the next installment of this two-part series, I’ll include another example of dramatic nighttime imagery made possible by the Day/Night Band sensor, along with more “eARTh,” and imagery featuring an erupting volcano, wildfire, and evidence of drought in the southwestern United States.