This image of North and South America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The new data was mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

For more such images of our planet, read Earth at Night, NASA’s latest ebook that features dazzling photographs and images from space of Earth’s nightlights. For nearly 25 years, satellite images of Earth at night have served as a fundamental research tool, while also stoking public curiosity. The images paint an expansive and revealing picture, showing how humans have illuminated and shaped the planet in profound ways since the invention of the light bulb 140 years ago.

This image’s striking nighttime view was made possible by Suomi’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. VIIRS detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires and reflected moonlight. In this case, auroras, fires and other stray light have been removed to emphasize the city lights.

Image Credit: NASA