What are the blue blobs that the astronaut photographed from orbit?

In 2021, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station photographed two blue blobs over the South China Sea. Now NASA has published this picture with comments about what exactly we see on it.

Blue blobs over the South China Sea. Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Amazing observation from the ISS

There are often reports in the media about strange things that astronauts see from the International Space Station (ISS). Sometimes they turn out to be completely earthly horrors. Others look much more mysterious, but in the end there are rational explanations for them.

On October 30, 2021, an astronaut took a photo of two blue blobs in the atmosphere over the South China Sea from the ISS. On October 9 of this year, NASA published this photo and immediately explained that they are explained by two phenomena independent of each other.

What are blue blobs really?

The blob that is at the bottom of the photo is actually a huge lightning bolt that took place somewhere over the Gulf of Thailand. This atmospheric phenomenon can reach hundreds of kilometers in length. The case captured in the photo was not of record size, but occurred under special conditions.

The discharge occurred in a place where the clouds dispersed in all directions, forming something like a crater. And it was the walls of this short-lived atmospheric structure that were illuminated by lightning. As a result, the astronaut saw just a huge and very bizarre blob.

The blob on the right side of the photo is actually sunlight reflected from the Moon, which at that time was at a certain angle to the ISS. As a result, it was reflected from tiny particles in the atmosphere and formed a blob with an indistinct halo.

Why are the blobs blue?

The greatest number of questions may arise regarding the blue color of the blobs. But it is explained quite simply. It is the short waves of blue that are most easily dispersed by the Earth’s atmosphere. This explains the blue color of the sky.

Although other phenomena, such as refraction of light, can produce other colors. And this is clearly visible in the same photo. It is this phenomenon that explains the orange halo that repeats the circumference of the Earth in the upper part of the image.

According to www.space.com

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