NASA camera captures bright flashes above Earth's surface


Space weather describes the electromagnetic environment around the planet, including the magnetosphere - a protective magnetic field generated by the rotation of the Earth's core. As DSCOVR passes between Earth and the Sun, EPIC takes photo after photo, like a proud parent on prom night.

25 years later, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), which is stuck out in space between the Earth and sun nearly four times as far away from the planet as the moon, was also capturing these mysterious flashes of light.

Marshak offered an explanation: sunlight touches a smooth lake or ocean portion, reflects back directly into space, and hits the camera right on.

Almost a quarter-century later, DSCOVR found flashes of light over land as well.

This bubble is even seen by spacecrafts high above Earth's surface, such as NASA's Van Allen Probes.

Plans are already underway to test VLF transmissions in the upper atmosphere to see if they could remove excess charged particles? which can appear during periods of intense space weather, such as when the sun erupts with giant clouds of particles and energy, NASA said.

Check out the footage below, which was shot by the EPIC camera onboard DSCOVR spacecraft.

Marshak and a team of researchers discovered that similar reflections were noticed over the ocean in 1993.

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"These clouds are cooling us off by reflecting the sun energy back to space, but what we didn't realize is that they may be reflecting more than we previously thought", said Kostinski. But later researchers found. Alexander Marshak, DSCOVR deputy project scientist as he looked through that day's EPIC images which first noticed unusual flashes occasionally appearing over oceans, said that " we found quite a few dazzling flashes over land as well.

Based on the physics of light reflection, only certain spots on Earth should produce these twinkling reflections, they reasoned.

Initially, researchers thought the flashes could simply have been sunlight bouncing off bodies of water, above which the flashes were first spotted.

This confirmed that sunlight was definitely the source of the mysterious glints. "But the glint is pretty big, so it wasn't that".

The scientists also used angles to find that the light reflect off ice particles floating in the air. Finally, the researchers showed that the light wasn't probably erupting from Earth.

"The source of the flashes is definitely not on the ground", Marshak said.

Detecting glints like this from much farther away could be used by other spacecraft to study exoplanets, Marshak said.

As they suspected, the flashes happened only at locations and times on Earth where the angles matched. They are of the view that these flashes are coming from the ice particles in space and high altitudes on the Earth.