Herbal Earth: Spectacular Vegetation Views of Our Home Planet and the Natural World of Living Green Life

by Ken Kremer on June 22, 2013

Earth’s Vegetation. World map of vegetation created with Suomi NPP data. Credit: NASA/NOAA

Earth’s Vegetation from Suomi NPP satellite. World map of vegetation data collected by the Suomi NPP satellite (National Polar-orbiting Partnership) in a partnership between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Credit: NASA/NOAA
Photo and Video Gallery below

Herbal Earth: that’s the title of a spectacular collection of vivid new views of the Earth’s vegetation captured over the past year by the Suomi NPP satellite.

NPP is short for National Polar-orbiting Partnership – an Earth science satellite partnership between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Although it’s rather reminiscent of the manmade ‘World at Night’ – its actually the ‘Natural World of Living Green Life.’

The Suomi NPP satellite data were collected with the Visible-Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument from April 2012 to April 2013 and used to generate this gallery of images and animations – released by NASA and NOAA on June 19.

Western Hemisphere -Vegetation on Our Planet. The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas. Suomi NPP Satellite data from April 2012 to April 2013 was used to generate these images. Credit: NASA/NOAA

Western Hemisphere -Vegetation on Our Planet. The darkest green areas are the lushest in vegetation, while the pale colors are sparse in vegetation cover either due to snow, drought, rock, or urban areas. Suomi NPP Satellite data from April 2012 to April 2013 was used to generate these images. Credit: NASA/NOAA

Suomi NPP was launched on October 28, 2011 by a Delta II rocket and placed into a sun-synchronous orbit 824 km (512 miles) above the Earth. It orbits Earth about 14 times daily.

The VIIRS instrument measures vegetation changes over time by looking at changes in the visible and near-infrared light reflected by vegetation. The 22-band radiometer sensor can detect subtle differences in greenness.

Nile Delta: July 9-15, 2012.  Amidst the deserts of Egypt, the Nile River provides life-sustaining water to the region. Also visible are the urbanized areas of northern Egypt. Credit: NOAA/NASA

Nile Delta: July 9-15, 2012. Amidst the deserts of Egypt, the Nile River provides life-sustaining water to the region. Also visible are the urbanized areas of northern Egypt. Credit: NASA/NOAA

The data are incorporated into the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) which represents the photosynthetic potential of vegetation.

The NVDI measures and monitors plant growth, vegetation cover and biomass production from the Suomi NPP satellite information.

The Florida Everglades: March 18-24, 2013. The "river of grass" extending south of Lake Okeechobee shows clear signs of its modified state with areas of dense agriculture, urban sprawl and water conservation areas delineated by a series of waterways that crisscross Southern Florida.  Credit: NOAA/NASA

The Florida Everglades: March 18-24, 2013. The “river of grass” extending south of Lake Okeechobee shows clear signs of its modified state with areas of dense agriculture, urban sprawl and water conservation areas delineated by a series of waterways that crisscross Southern Florida. Credit: NASA/NOAA

A quarter of the Earth’s surface is covered by some green vegetation, the remainder is the blue ocean.

Video: Green- Vegetation on Our Planet (Tour of Earth)

And don’t forget to “Send Your Name to Mars” aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter- details here. Deadline Very Soon: July 1, 2013. Launch: Nov. 18, 2013

Ken Kremer

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Learn more about Earth, Mars, Curiosity, Opportunity, MAVEN, LADEE and NASA missions at Ken’s upcoming presentation

June 23: “Send your Name to Mars on MAVEN” and “CIBER Astro Sat, LADEE Lunar & Antares Rocket Launches from Virginia”; Rodeway Inn, Chincoteague, VA, 8 PM

Eastern Hemisphere -Vegetation on Our Planet. Credit: NASA/NOAA

Eastern Hemisphere -Vegetation on Our Planet. Credit: NASA/NOAA

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

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