Nighttime Lights of the World

Click on above image to access data for the completed regions of the world. Data for additional regions will be made available on-line when completed.

The Nighttime Lights of the World dataset contains the first satellite-based global inventory of human settlements, derived from nighttime data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS). The DMSP-OLS has the unique capability to observe faint sources of visible-near infrared emissions present at the Earth's surface, including cities, towns, villages, gas flares, and fires. NGDC has developed algorithms for producing georeferenced fire and nighttime lights products.

If you have a Java-enabled browser that supports JDK 1.1 (IE 4.0+, Navigator 4.05+, HotJava 1.1.x), you can create and download custom images here.

If your browser does not support JDK 1.1 but you are using IE 3.02+ or Navigator 3.0+ on Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0 or Solaris 2.5 or 2.6, you can use this page, which uses the Sun Java plug-in. If you do not have the plug-in, you will be given the opportunity to install it first. Note: If you are using Navigator, after installing the plug-in you must quit Navigator and restart it for the plug-in to work.

For specific information on algorithms and dataset production, see our references page.

Send questions or comments about the Nighttime Lights program to

Last updated: 20 Oct 98