The camera mounted on the Subaru telescope photographed an unusual optical phenomenon resembling something between a laser show and a machine code from the Matrix. Subsequently, it turned out that its source was a NASA satellite.
The heavenly show took place on January 28. For several seconds, a series of green stripes was observed in the sky over the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Kea. They flashed one after another, and then everything stopped. Later, astronomers were able to determine the source of their origin. The beams were created by the NASA-owned ICESat-2 satellite.
ICESat-2 was launched in 2018 and it is in a 480-kilometer near-Earth orbit. The satellite is designed to track changes in the Earth’s ice cover, as well as study topography, vegetation and cloud cover. For this, it uses an ATLAS laser altimeter.
ATLAS is one of the most powerful tools of its class ever launched into space. It emits laser pulses at a wavelength of 532 nm, corresponding to green light. In total, the tool is able to produce up to 10 thousand pulses per second and take measurements every 0.7 meters of the earth’s surface. By measuring the time it takes for the laser beams to return to the satellite, scientists can determine what changes have occurred on Earth. It was ATLAS that made the green rays that got on the Subaru photo.
Earlier we talked about the spiral observed over Hawaii, created by the Falcon 9 rocket.
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