Early on the morning of February 22, 2013, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of heavy snow over the United States. In many towns and cities across the Great Plains, more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell. Kansas bore the brunt of the storm, with as much as 22 inches (56 centimeters) falling in the town of Russell.
The day-night band takes advantage of moonlight, airglow (the atmosphere’s self-illumination through chemical reactions), zodiacal light (sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust), and starlight from the Milky Way. By using these dim light sources, the day-night band can detect changes in clouds, snow cover, and sea ice. When the image was acquired, the moon was in its waxing gibbous phase, meaning it was more than half-lit, but less than full.
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 is the result of a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Department of Defense. Caption by Adam Voiland.