First image captured with NOAA-21 VIIRS instrument

(ORDO NEWS) — Bright blue waters in the Caribbean and smog in northern India are visible in the first global image taken using NOAA-21 VIIRS instrument data.

NOAA-21’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) began collecting data on Dec. 5 as the satellite passed over the East Coast of the United States.

Data for the global image was collected over a 24-hour period between December 5 and 6. This comes three weeks after NASA launched the NOAA-21 satellite from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

The VIIRS instrument, which is also used on the NOAA-20 and NOAA Suomi-NPP satellites, provides global measurements of the atmosphere, land and oceans. It was built by Raytheon Intelligence & Space in El Segundo, California.

Over the oceans, the VIIRS measures sea surface temperatures, an indicator that is important for monitoring the formation of hurricanes.

It also measures the color of the ocean, which helps scientists track the activity of phytoplankton, a key indicator of ocean ecology and the health of the marine environment.

“The turquoise color that is visible around Cuba and the Bahamas in the bottom left image comes from sediment in shallow waters around the continental shelf,” said NOAA’s Dr. Satya Kalluri.

On land, the VIIRS can detect and measure wildfires, droughts and floods. Its data can be used to track the movement of smoke from forest fires.

The bottom right image shows haze and smog over northern India, likely caused by burning agricultural products. The snow-capped Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau are also visible to the north.

VIIRS captures images of lights at night, including city lights, lightning, auroras, and ship and fire lights.

The instrument also generates critical environmental data on snow and ice cover, clouds, fog, aerosols and dust, as well as the health of the world’s crops.

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