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Dispatches : Adventure Lab

Black Marble: Stunning New Satellite Photos and Video of the Earth at Night

A cloud-free view from space as acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Satellite (Suomi NPP). Over nine days in April and thirteen days in October 2012, it took 312 satellite orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of land surface.

For roughly a year, NASA has been using a satellite with a technology sensitive enough to detect and capture a picture of the light coming from a single ship at sea or a lone light on the highway. The Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership Satellite employs a day-night band sensor that can analyze and adjust the amount of light in individual pixels and then put them together to create one sharp, stunning image of the earth at night. "Unlike a camera that captures a picture in one exposure, the day-night band produces an image by repeatedly scanning a scene and resolving it as millions of individual pixels," NASA said in a press release. "Then, the day-night band reviews the amount of light in each pixel. If it is very bright, a low-gain mode prevents the pixel from oversaturating. If the pixel is very dark, the signal is amplified."

711010main_dnb_united_states_673The United States at Night. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC

It's not just that the NPP sensor is sensitive enough to detect artificial lights. It can also capture the light created by auroras or moonlight reflected in the earth's atmosphere, gas flares, and forest fires. Experts have already employed the satellite's images for a number of practical reasons. They used them to study Hurricane Sandy's moonlit-illuminated landfall in New Jersey on October 29, the power outages that resulted along the coasts of New York and New Jersey after the storm, the movement of forest fires at night in Siberia, and NOAA's Weather Service used the images to detect fog rolling into San Francisco Bay on November 26—which led to flight delays and cancellations.

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Video of the Whitewater Grand Prix Whitewater Enduro Race

Director Skip Armstrong and Tribe Rider have released two new videos showing the action from the Rio Gol Gol in Chile during Stage 1 of the Whitewater Grand Prix. The video above shows highlights from the whitewater enduro race and offers a look at the standings. The video below offers a behind-the-scenes view of the athletes in action.

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The Adventure Racing National Champions, by the Numbers

Riverboarding-PhotoRegenold enjoying the paddle on a riverboard. Photo: Chris Radcliffe

This year, Team Gear Junkie/WEDALI became the first team in the history of adventure racing to win both U.S. National Championship races. In September, they nabbed the title in the Checkpoint Tracker National Championship by whitewater rafting, trail running, mountain biking, orienteering, and riverboarding through 110 miles of West Virginia's wilds for 29 hours—20 hours of which included rain. In October, they grabbed the United States Adventure Racing Association’s 2012 National Championship by canoeing, trail running, mountain biking, and oreinteering over 27 hours to beat 54 other teams in the Catskills of New York. The team raced in more than 20 events on the way to their two national championships, which meant enduring a lot of inconveniences. "[There were] lots of minor things—cuts, bruises, bee stings," says Team Gear Junkie founder Stephen Regenold. "Vomiting is always going to be a part of this sport, too, in some races."

There were also more serious illnesses and accidents, like heat stroke for one member, which led to a did not finish in a California race. Regenold got into adventure racing 10 years ago so he could use the events as the ultimate testing ground for gear. He has since used his experiences to write reviews for The Gear Junkie and Outside. Lately, though, racing has become a bit more of an obsession for him. We called him up to find out more about his favorite pastime, by the numbers.

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Whitewater Grand Prix Takes Off in Chile

705162_435218233212177_2070803841_oEmergency medical job. Photo: Whitewater Grand Prix/Facebook/Erik Boomer

Medical care before the first official run of the Whitewater Grand Prix in Chile took the form of duct tape. After France’s Eric Deguil, a two-time Association of Whitewater Professionals World Series champion, hurt his ribs paddling through a trial run of the mile-long enduro whitewater race on the Rio Gol Gol, he decided to wrap a band of the multipurpose stuff around his torso for a quick fix. Apparently, it worked well enough. He led the standings after the first official run in the enduro whitewater race. On the second and final run, completed yesterday, 25 other male competitors had a chance to best the Frenchman's fastest time.

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Adventure Video of the Week: A Skier's Journey to Iceland

The hardest part of watching Jordan Manley's third episode of A Skier's Journey is knowing that it's the last in this year's series. That thought quickly fades away as the stunning footage of Iceland transports you out of the present and into dreams of skiing yet another foreign landscape.

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