Our planet looks like a blue marble or a pale blue dot from outer space. However, from a close distance from the height of the orbit of the International Space Station, you can see colorful phenomena, for example, the golden glow. Recently, astronauts on the ISS were amazed by an incredible image taken at an altitude of 400 km above the Pacific Ocean northeast of Papua New Guinea. The photo reflects the Earth’s atmosphere, which glows golden against the background of the starry night sky. This phenomenon is known as airglow.
Airglow arises from the interaction of sunlight with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere. This process causes them to emit light to release excess energy. The atmospheric glow occurs at altitudes from 80 to 650 km. It is best observed at night, shortly after sunset. Astrophotographers, being in dark areas, can also record a faint glow, but it is best visible from the ISS.
The photo shows a strong golden band of airglow, which is perfectly adapted to the curvature of the planet, with a more hazy band above. Unlike the aurora borealis, the atmospheric glow is powered by ordinary solar radiation, giving an impressive appearance to the atmosphere of our planet.
Although the airglow and the aurora are not related, increased solar activity can enhance this phenomenon. It is also worth noting that airglow does not always have a golden color. Sometimes this phenomenon has a green color and looks like the aurora borealis, but in fact it is the atmospheric glow.
NASA uses the ICON and GOLD missions to study this phenomenon. ICON explores the interaction of charged and neutral gases in the upper atmosphere, GOLD studies the causes of changes in this region. Airglow is an information tool for studying the temperature and composition of the atmosphere. It helps to uncover global patterns in this ever-changing region where Earth and space interact.
Earlier we explained about the auroras and what they are like on different planets of the Solar System.
According to Space
Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time