Worldview Image of the Week

Sundhnúkur Volcanic Activity and Aurora Borealis Over Iceland

Image captured on Apr 16, 2024, by the VIIRS instrument aboard the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite.

Energy from the Sun and energy from within Earth are seen in this Black Marble Nighttime Blue/Yellow Composite (Day/Night Band) false-color image of Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula. The image was acquired on April 16, 2024, by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite.

Energy from the Sun is seen in the wispy tendrils of the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, streaking across the center of the image. Auroras are the result of disturbances in Earth's magnetosphere caused by the solar wind. As these highly charged particles from the Sun interact with our planet's magnetic field, bursts of colorful light occur as colliding particles interact with atmospheric gases. As noted on the NASA Space Place website, atmospheric oxygen gives off green and red light, while nitrogen glows blue and purple.

Energy from Earth is seen in the bright red cluster of dots near the center of the image, which is the heat signature of lava from the Sundhnúkur volcano, located southwest of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik. The ongoing volcanic eruption began on March 16, 2024. Lava is molten or partially-molten rock emerging from Earth's interior. The temperature of lava can be well above 2,000°F, making the high radiation of its heat signature easily detectable by sensors aboard satellites.

The Black Marble Nighttime Blue/Yellow Composite (Day/Night Band) is a false color composite using the VIIRS at-sensor radiance and the brightness temperatures from the M15 band. Data are provided by NASA's VNP46A1 product using Suomi NPP observations.

Originally designed by the U.S. Naval Research Lab and incorporated into NASA research and applications efforts, the resulting false color scheme shows nighttime city lights in shades of yellow with infrared, nighttime cloud presence in shades of blue. During bright moonlight conditions, moonlight reflected from cloud tops and the land surface may also provide a yellow hue to these features. Comparisons of cloud-free conditions before and after a period of significant change, such as new city growth, disasters, fires, or other factors, may exhibit a change in emitted light (yellows) from those features over time.

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