Stunning NASA images show 'Earth never sleeps'

Scientists have revealed an unprecedented view of Earth at night showing the glow of natural and human-built phenomena in greater detail than ever before.

Scientists have revealed an unprecedented view of Earth at night showing the glow of natural and human-built phenomena in greater detail than ever before.

The new images were taken by a Nasa-NOAA satellite that was launched last year.

Its sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea.

Unlike a camera that captures a picture in one exposure, the day-night band produces an image by repeatedly scanning a scene and resolving it as millions of individual pixels.


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The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of October 29.

Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.

With its night view, VIIRS is able to detect a more complete view of storms and other weather conditions, such as fog.

It also pictured the Nile River, a map of the US east coast and the lights from a line of fishing boats.

"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."