Friday, November 17, 2023

Earthglow | International Space Station

Earthglow | International Space Station

Earth's glow just barely shines above city lights off the coast of Baja California, Mexico, as the International Space Station soared through orbital nighttime 260 miles above. Earth's airglow outlines the planet's horizon in this photograph.

Airglow occurs when atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, excited by sunlight, emit light to shed their excess energy. Or, it can happen when atoms and molecules that have been ionized by sunlight collide with and capture a free electron. In both cases, they eject a particle of light—called a photon—in order to relax again. The phenomenon is similar to auroras, but where auroras are driven by high-energy particles originating from the solar wind, airglow is energized by ordinary, day-to-day solar radiation.

Unlike auroras, which are episodic and fleeting, airglow constantly shines throughout Earth’s atmosphere, and the result is a tenuous bubble of light that closely encases our entire planet. (Auroras, on the other hand, are usually constrained to Earth’s poles.) Just a tenth as bright as all the stars in the night sky, airglow is far more subdued than auroras, too dim to observe easily except in orbit or on the ground with clear, dark skies and a sensitive camera. However, it is a marker nevertheless of the dynamic region where Earth meets space. 

Follow Expedition 70 Updates:

Expedition 70 Crew
Station Commander: Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency (Denmark)
Roscosmos (Russia): Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub, Konstantin Borisov
JAXA: Flight Engineer Satoshi Furukawa (Japan)
NASA: Jasmin Moghbeli, Loral O'Hara (USA)

An international partnership of space agencies provides and operates the elements of the International Space Station (ISS). The principals are the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada. The ISS has been the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken.

Credit: NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC)

Image Date: Nov. 13, 2023

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