It may not be the most useful of Google Maps features, but with Gmail and Chrome down today, this just announced earth-at-night layer sure is pretty. This Blue Marble project — a joint project between NASA's Earth Observatory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which also created that iconic iPhone background of our planet from space — took nighttime images of the world lit up over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. The Suomi NPP satellite did over 300 orbits to get shots of the entire planet, which Google mapped over its regular daytime view to finish the product, which you can play around with right here. It's pretty fun. Like, look at North Korea versus South Korea at night... Not that people need a reason to prefer Google Maps over Apple or Nokia's offerings, but having a gorgeous nighttime view won't turn people off, either.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.