The ability to detect nighttime lights from space using low-light imaging data acquired by the DMSP OLS has been known since the early 1970's (Croft, T.A., 1973, Burning waste gas in oil fields. Nature, v. 245, p. 375-376). Use of this capability was limited due to the fact that the data were preserved on film.

Early maps of nighttime lights derived from DMSP data were constructed using small numbers of visible band film strips.

For Example: Sullivan, W.T. III, 1989, A 10 km resolution image of the entire night-time Earth based on cloud-free satellite photographs in the 400-1100 nm band. International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 10, p. 1-5.

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