For over three decades the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's Operational Linescan System (OLS) has demonstrated a unique nighttime imaging capability using a high gain visible channel. Designed primarily to detect clouds through relative moonlight reflection contrasts, quantitative applications based on the OLS nighttime visible data are limited due to low radiometric (6-bit, or 64 count levels) resolution, lack of calibration, and not being accompanied by a large suite of other spectral bands (only a single thermal infrared window channel). Despite these limitations, the fundamental capabilities enabled by the nighttime visible band are truly unique, and worthy of closer inspection by the terrestrial, atmospheric, and space science communities alike-particularly in light of the inclusion of a comparable "Day/Night visible Band" (DNB) upon the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) scheduled to fly upon the National Polar-orbiting Operation Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) constellation (and a risk-reduction preview upon the NPOESS Preparatory Project Satellite). This paper anticipates some of the capabilities of the VIIRS-DNB in the context of nighttime dust storm and snow cover mapping from lunar reflection, based on heritage sensors from the contemporary environmental satellite constellation.© (2005) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.