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NOAA imagery shows population centers and road transportation network

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 9:39am MDT
The Suomi NPP satellite acquired two nighttime images early on October 1, 2013, for this natural-light, mosaic view (top) of the continental United States. (NOAA)

The Suomi NPP satellite acquired two nighttime images early on October 1, 2013, for this natural-light, mosaic view (top) of the continental United States. (NOAA)

Millions of Americans will be taking to the highways of byways of the nation in the coming weeks for various holiday travels.  Imagery released by NOAA this week shows how the nation’s major roadways intersect with the major population centers.

A nighttime satellite image of the nation was taken by the Suomi NPP satellite taken last month near the new moon when light from space was relatively low.  This allowed NOAA to generate an image showing population centers from coast to coast.

When overlaid with a graphic of major interstate highways, railroads, and rivers, the images provide insight into how the nation evolved.

Early in the nation’s history, rivers were the major means of transportation and population centers developed around them.  As we expanded and the national highway system took shape, major roads connected the cities.

Below we have added an interactive slider to allow you to compare the surface travel networks with the satellite image.  Simply move it side to side to compare.

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