Ice crystals in atmosphere – NASA's EPIC camera spots mysterious flashes of light from Earth

NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard the DSCOVR captured mysterious flashes of light from the Earth.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: May 16, 2017, 12:29 PM IST
Ice crystals in atmosphere – NASA's EPIC camera spots mysterious flashes of light from Earth

New Delhi: The NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a space weather satellite, has been observing the Earth since it was launched by SpaceX on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle on February 11, 2015 from Cape Canaveral.

A powerful camera onboard DSCOVR has been taking images every hour since 2015 from its spot between the sun and the Earth.

Now, in the course of just one year, NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) onboard the DSCOVR captured mysterious flashes of light from the Earth.

Scientists believe the glimmers of reflected sunlight are an evidence of ice crystals in the atmosphere.

The flashes seen over the ocean may simply be the reflection of sunlight off a smooth part of an ocean or lake, Alexander Marshak, DSCOVR deputy project scientist, explains.

However, DSCOVR is not the first satellite to spot these flashes of sun glints.

In 1990, the Galileo spacecraft captured some of these flashes in Earth's atmosphere while it was studying Jupiter.

Studying the glints from DSCOVR can offer insight about how light reflects off Earth's atmosphere, and how that could affect the planet's radiation budget.

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

Video courtesy: NASA Goddard/YouTube