Image: Earth enveloped in airglow

Image: Earth enveloped in airglow
Credit: NASA

On October 7, 2018, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph while orbiting at an altitude of more than 250 miles over Australia. 

The orange hue enveloping Earth is known as airglow—diffuse bands of light that stretch 50 to 400 miles into our atmosphere. The phenomenon typically occurs when molecules (mostly nitrogen and oxygen) are energized by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. To release that energy, atoms in the lower atmosphere bump into each other and lose energy in the collision. The result is colorful airglow.

Airglow reveals some of the workings of the upper reaches of our atmosphere. It can help scientists learn about the movement of particles near the interface of Earth and space, including the connections between space weather and Earth weather. Satellites offer one way to study this dynamic zone. NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite will help scientists understand the at work where Earth's atmosphere interacts with near-Earth space.


Explore further

Beautiful green 'airglow' spotted by aurora hunters – but what is it?

Provided by NASA
Citation: Image: Earth enveloped in airglow (2018, November 7) retrieved 19 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-image-earth-enveloped-airglow.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
32 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more