Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rainbow Aurora

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth’s upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet’s best views of this phenomenon, circling 400 km up on the Station.

Here, the last remnants of sunlight can be seen as a blue streak on the left side. Above it is the yellow hue of our atmosphere reflecting the sunlight. This thin band is all that protects us from solar radiation.

In the foreground, the Space Station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm is stowed, waiting to receive the next supply spacecraft to visit the microgravity laboratory.

Image credit: ESA/NASA

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