NASA continues to amaze space enthusiasts with mesmerizing images of the cosmos from its various spacecraft. We have the James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope, and even the International Space Station, where humans are busy conducting research. From the moon to Mars, stars to galaxies, NASA’s advanced technology has made it possible to visualize the universe in real time. Now, NASA has shared yet another amazing image. NASA shared a breathtaking snapshot of Earth’s airglow taken from the International Space Station (ISS) on Instagram.
This image was taken on November 14, 2023 while orbiting over the United States. This image shows Earth’s airglow outlining Earth’s horizon, with the Moon above.
“In this photo taken from the International Space Station orbiting 260 miles (418 km) above the American Midwest on November 14, 2023, Earth’s airglow outlines the Earth’s horizon,” NASA wrote on Instagram. It is depicted with the moon in the sky. In the lower right, the city lights of Denver and its suburbs are shining. The bright lights of Chicago are in the background.”
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What is Earth’s airglow?
According to NASA, airglow is a phenomenon in which atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere are excited by sunlight and emit light as a result of releasing excess energy. It resembles the Northern Lights. The only difference is that auroras are caused by high-energy particles originating from the solar wind, whereas airglow is caused by daily solar radiation. As stated in the post, studying airglow allows scientists to better understand the temperature, density, and composition of the upper atmosphere. It also helps scientists track how particles move through the area itself. NASA goes on to say, “Vast high-altitude winds blow through the ionosphere, pushing its contents around the world, and a delicate dance of airglow follows its lead, highlighting global patterns.”
Unsurprisingly, the image garnered a lot of attention on Instagram. The image has received over 8.1 million likes and many comments.
An accompanying caption from NASA describes the scene: “Earth as seen from the space station at night in orbit. The moon is above the Earth, approximately centered on the surface. Airglow. outlines the atmosphere on the Earth’s surface in shades of yellow. The Earth’s surface is dotted with cities, among which a concentration of light near the horizon identifies the city of Chicago, with a Close concentrations of light identify Denver.”
NASA’s continued efforts to capture the beauty of space keep space enthusiasts excited and curious about the universe.
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