Jan. 25, 2012 -- This amazing high-definition portrait of our planet was made by NASA's next-generation Suomi NPP satellite, launched on Oct. 28, 2011. This is a composite image created from multiple scans taken with the satellite's Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).
NASA launched the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project (or NPP) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. On Jan. 24, NPP was renamed Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, or Suomi NPP, in honor of the late Verner E. Suomi. Suomi was a meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin and is widely recognized as "the father of satellite meteorology."
The satellite that bears his name now orbits Earth about 14 times each day and observes nearly the entire surface.
Suomi NPP is the first satellite designed to collect critical data to improve short-term weather forecasts and increase understanding of long-term climate change.