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NASA hopes to crowdsource identifying hundreds of thousands of pictures of the Earth at night.

NASA crowdsources IDing photos taken from space

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, August 16, 2014, 2:20 PM - Take a good look at the video up above, shot from orbit. Can you guess what it depicts?

It's actually northwestern China and the Koreas. The shining bastion at the bottom is South Korea. It looks like an island separated from China by a dark gulf, but that's not the ocean. It's neighbouring North Korea, dark due to its tiny, underdeveloped economy after years of totalitarian rule.

If could identify the image off the top of your head, it seems NASA wants your help. The space agency is asking for public input in categorizing hundreds of thousands of night photos of Earth, most of which are shot from the International Space Station.

Called the Image Detective Program, stellar sleuths are asked to identify particular towns and landmarks shining in the night. Around 20,000 images have been identified in this way, but there are countless more to go, and each pick needs to be verified by several other people.

The goal, NASA says, it to create an open atlas of night-time photos of our planet.

Aside from bring a great resource, it also has a practical use: It could help save energy, aid human health and safety and improve our knowledge of Earth's atmospheric chemistry.

Get cracking: NASA's Gateway of Astronaut Photography of Earth is up to around 1.8 million shots, including 1.3 million from the International Space Station, with more coming daily thanks to the station's astronaut shutterbugs.

With files from CNN.

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