Houston, we have a poll.

An elusive red 'sprite' photographed high in the night sky by the International Space Station will face off against a view of New Jersey's devastated coastline, a 'Black Marble' photo of the night sky and solar flares in Nasa's vote for the best image of Earth taken last year.

In all 32 images will battle for the title of Earth image of the year, awarded by the Nasa Earth Observatory.

They've been paired off for knockout-style votes, with two pictures eventually meeting in a final poll to find 2012's winner.

The images range from dramatic landscapes to amazing new uses of scientific data.

Voting is open now at Nasa's website - here are a selection of our favourite images from the poll.

Loading Slideshow...
  • The Black Marble

    “Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights,” asserts Chris Elvidge, a NOAA scientist who has studied them for 20 years.

  • The View from the Top

    Ocean scientist Norman Kuring of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre pieced together this composite image of Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the entire Arctic.

  • Flying Through a Crack in the Ice

    The above image is a still frame captured from a three-dimensional, virtual flight through the new rift in the Pine Island Glacier.

  • Red Sprites

    Nasa explains: “Red sprites” are short-lived, red flashes that occur about 80 kilometers (50 miles) up in the atmosphere. With long, vertical tendrils like a jellyfish, these electrical discharges can extend 20 to 30 kilometers up into the atmosphere and are connected to thunderstorms and lightning.

  • Baja

    The entire length of Baja California and the Pacific coast of Mexico.

  • Auroras over North America

    Overnight on October 4-5, 2012, a mass of energetic particles from the atmosphere of the Sun were flung out into space, a phenomenon known as a coronal mass ejection. Three days later, the storm from the Sun stirred up the magnetic field around Earth and produced gorgeous displays of northern lights.

  • Where The Trees Are

    The map above was built from the National Biomass and Carbon Dataset (NBCD), and depicts the concentration of biomass in the US.

  • A Changed Coastline in Jersey

    The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

  • New Volcanic Island in the Red Sea

    A new island is forming in the Red Sea. About 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the coast of Yemen, an undersea eruption began in mid-December 2011.

  • El Hierro Submarine Volcano Eruption

    Four months after it began, the underwater volcanic eruption off El Hierro Island persists. This natural-color satellite image, collected on February 10, 2012, shows the site of the eruption, near the fishing village of La Restinga.

  • Hurricane Sandy

    On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy approached the densely populated U.S. East Coast.

  • City Lights of the United States 2012

    This image of the United States of America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite