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From space, North Korea is a sea of darkness

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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I never tire of satellite images, and especially those of North Korea at night. Take a look at the latest image by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. South Korea and China are readily visible – their cities and industries lighting up the night sky. But in between…. is that an ocean?

Not an ocean in the literal sense, but perhaps in terms of an open expanse of… nothingness. Except we know millions of people live and work in North Korea. During the day a satellite image would reveal roads and cities and settlements. But at night? Darkness.

Want more? See North Korea by night from 2011 and 2012.

Props to: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. “The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.”

David Wogan About the Author: An engineer and policy researcher who writes about energy, technology, and policy - and everything in between. Based in Austin, Texas. Comments? Follow on Twitter @davidwogan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Chryses 9:45 pm 02/26/2014

    Talk about a night and day difference! (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

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  2. 2. davidwogan 11:55 pm 02/26/2014

    I see what you did there ;-)

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  3. 3. tuned 10:33 am 02/27/2014

    Actually this is one GOOD thing about, N.K.
    So much less pollution.

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  4. 4. FredBass 1:13 pm 02/27/2014

    Not only less pollution, but better sleep, better circadian rhythms and greater peace of mind (in an unpeaceful society).

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  5. 5. SAULT18 1:37 pm 02/27/2014


    If people are burning wood, kerosene and other inefficient / dirty fuels just to get some light and / or warmth because they don’t have access to electricity, then it actually means MORE pollution is being generated. Depravation does not necessarily equal efficiency.

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  6. 6. Scottcha 6:52 pm 02/27/2014

    What an awesome spot for a telescope!

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  7. 7. David Cummings 6:54 am 02/28/2014

    North Korea: ‘We were forced to eat grass and soil’

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  8. 8. abolitionist 7:06 am 03/1/2014

    “So much less pollution.”

    A veritable workers paradise!

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