The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released some images and videos that show that Christmas lights can also be seen from space.
Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP, is a weather satellite that is jointly operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Data from the Suomi NPP satellite reveals the changes in lighting patterns over different regions such as in the U.S. during Christmas and New Year's Eve. The satellite has an instrument that enables it to detect and observe light globally.
Many people across the world including the U.S. light up their homes and workplace during Christmas time. The Suomi NPP gave NASA an opportunity to show how these lights look from space.
Data from Suomi NPP suggests night time lights in some major U.S. cities glow 20 to 50 percent more during New Year's Eve and Christmas in comparison to other parts of the year.
NASA explains that the analysis of the data about holiday lights utilizes an innovative algorithm that has been developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The algorithm filters moonlight, airborne particles and clouds so that they can be isolated from the light from Earth.
Data collected by Suomi NPP suggests that in the U.S., lights start getting brighter from Black Friday and continue till New Year's Day. NASA scientists observed the lighting data of 70 cities in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013, which was the initial step determining energy use in urban areas.
The light intensity surged by 30 percent to 50 percent in outskirts and suburbs of major U.S. cities during the same time of the year. The light in central urban areas increased by about 20 to 30 percent.
"It's a near ubiquitous signal. Despite being ethnically and religiously diverse, we found that the U.S. experiences a holiday increase that is present across most urban communities. These lighting patterns are tracking a national shared tradition," says Miguel Roman, a scientist at NASA Goddard and member of the Suomi NPP Land Discipline Team. Roman also co-led the latest research.
NASA scientists focused on the country's West Coast including the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The researchers also observed lighting patterns of about 30 Puerto Rican towns, which are known for the longest Christmas holidays.
Check out the video released by NASA that shows Christmas lights from space.