These “Black Marble” photos of Earth were just released by NASA and are composites of images taken this year. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.
“Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights,” said Chris Elvidge, a NOAA scientist.
Jupiter may have “saved Earth from a devastating cosmic collision” on Monday when it took a hit from what may have been a massive asteroid, resulting in a 100-mile-wide fireball large enough to be caught on film from Earth.
This is the third time since 2009 observers have seen an impact flash on Jupiter’s surface, and some astronomers think the big planet’s gravitational pull serves as a sort of “cosmic shield” for the inner rings of planets — including Earth — “sweeping up incoming objects that would have a deadlier effect” if they were to crash into us. A few scientists think that without Jupiter’s protection, life on Earth wouldn’t have been able to develop.