These nighttime photos of Earth will completely destroy your productivity

NASA Goddard Flight Center/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Remember The Blue Marble, that iconic photo of the Earth that the Apollo 17 astronauts took in 1972? As impressive and as iconic as that photo—and subsequent versions—is, it only captures half the story. The daytime half, that is.

The Black Marble, a new series of photos from NASA, attempts to capture the other half. These nighttime composite photos of Earth call attention to the glow of human settlements that dot the Earth's surface. The photo series that NASA published to Flickr includes 15 images, and features a number of high-resolution composite images. To produce the photos, NASA used data from the Suomi NPP satellite and mapped it atop existing Blue Marble photos.

What I found most striking about these photos is just how interconnected we all are. In fact, if you look closely enough, you can actually trace the routes of some major highway corridors, such as Interstate 5 along the West Coast of the United States.

If you can, set aside some time, pop open a full-screen browser window, and take a look at the whole package of images. I especially like this 12150 by 6075-pixel image of the whole planet. And apologies in advance if I just derailed your productivity for the rest of the day...

[NASA via Gizmodo]

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