Ever wondered what Earth looks like from space? NASA shared this video to show us where Earth meets Space and what our planet looks like from above.
While most believe Earth looks like a pale blue dot from space, but when you get closer, you can actually see the line dividing Earth from Space.
If you were too look down from just 300 miles above the Earth’s surface, near the orbit of the International Space Station, you would see broad strips of red and green or purple and yellow light originating from the planet’s upper atmosphere. This light is called ‘Airglow’.
According to NASA, Airglow occurs when atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, excited by sunlight, emit light to shed their excess energy. It can also happen when atoms and molecules get 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, explains NASA.
“Each atmospheric gas has its own favored airglow color depending on the gas, altitude region, and excitation process, so you can use airglow to study different layers of the atmosphere,” said Doug Rowland, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We’re not studying airglow per se, but using it as a diagnostic.”
Airglow carries information about the atmosphere. Right from the upper atmosphere’s temperature, density, to its composition. In addition to that, it helps us trace how particles move through the region, says NASA in its report.
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