A Japanese astronomer has noticed spectacular green lines of light breaking through the cloudy sky. The curator of the Hiratsuka City Museum and amateur astronomer Daichi Fujii, using motion detector cameras, recorded green pulsating lines shining through the cloudy night sky. These images, as it turns out, have a fascinating extraterrestrial explanation.
Comparing his mysterious pictures with orbital data, Fujii found out that the green flashes belong to NASA‘s Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite 2, or ICESat-2, which flew over Japan on that fateful night. The Space Agency subsequently confirmed that the green laser pulses originate from their satellite. They were seen for the first time from the surface of the Earth.
“To see the laser, you have to be in the exact right place, at the right time, and you have to have the right conditions. In this case, ICESat-2 flew over an astronomer, with the beam hitting the low clouds at an angle, which made it noticeable,” explained Tony Martino, ICESat-2 researcher from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The satellite, launched into orbit back in 2018, uses laser light to get accurate measurements of the height of ice, water and the Earth’s surface. The laser fires 10 thousand times per second, emitting six beams of light to the Earth at the same time. By measuring how long it takes individual photons to bounce back to the satellite, it can get an accurate snapshot of the landscape below.
Initially, researchers believed that another epic image of green lasers shooting into the night sky, captured by the Subaru-Asahi Telescope’s star camera in Hawaii in January, was also caused by NASA’s ICESat-2. But, as it turned out later, the reflection, which happened a few months after Fujii recorded his meeting, was probably caused by a Chinese satellite to track the pollution of Daqi-1, and not ICESat-2.
Earlier we reported that the lunar cubesat was confused with an asteroid.
According to NASA.
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