Earth from Space: London and the Olympic Sites

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NASA

If viewership for these Olympic Games is anything like it was four years ago, billions will watch the London Games as they open tonight. But numbers for this view will be considerably lower. In this March 27 photo, London and the surrounding cities and towns hosting the Games are captured by the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership Satellite.

Though these kind of night-time satellite images look frivolous, they're crucial to earth scientists. "Nightime lights are the least ambiguous remote sensing observation indicating the presence and magnitude of human activities and the density of development," said Chris Elvidge, leader of the NOAA's Earth Observation Group, to a NASA writer while describing this shot.

NASA's Flickr page, which provides this image, has a good and much longer gloss on it. It also has images of the Athens and Atlanta sites. 

And specifically, the towns and centers named in this picture, and the sports they will host, are:

London -- Opening and Closing Ceremonies, most of the games
Lee Valley White Water Center -- canoeing
Weymouth -- sailing
Portland -- sailing
Eton Downey -- rowing and canoeing
Hadleigh Farm -- cycling and mountain bike

Below, recent Pictures of the Day:


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Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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