This image has been circulating on social media platforms for years now. Some users even attributed the occasion to Diwali in India. You can see examples of these below.
Fact Check/ Verification
Through relevant keyword search we found multiple news reports which state that the image in context was created by the United States Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. This was done to show the population growth overtime, from 1992 to 2003, with the different colours signifying a sharp increase in population.
A 2018 article on earthsky.org attributes it’s (image in context) colour composite creation in 2003 to scientist Chris Elvidge to highlight population growth over time. Describing the image it states, “white areas show city lights that were visible prior to 1992, while blue, green, and red shades indicate city lights that became visible in 1992, 1998, and 2003 respectively.”
The Science Photo Library includes this image with the title, “India at night, satellite image.” Its caption says the following:
“India at night, satellite view. This image is a composite showing the change in illumination over India from 1992-2003. Satellite data from 2003 is coloured red, 1998 is coloured green and 1992 is blue. The three data sets are composited to form the image. Nighttime lights on the map that are white are lights that were present throughout the entire period. Areas that are marked by red have only appeared in 2003. Areas coloured green and blue were only present in 1998 and 1992 respectively but are no longer visible. This image was created by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, USA.”
The social media post claiming the image in context to be released by NASA on occasion of the recently celebrated Ram Janam Bhoomi poojan in Ayodhya is misleading. The image was created by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, USA years ago.
The Science Photo Library: https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/160012/view/india-at-night-satellite-image
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