Astronauts onboard the International Space Station were given a treat – they witnessed one of the most spectacular natural phenomenon on Earth, from space. From onboard the station, Terry Virts also filmed it and took some pictures, so we can all enjoy.
We’ve been recently spoiled by the Tweets of ISS astronauts – Samantha Cristoforetti tweeted pictures of coffee drinking in space for the first time, as well as some amazing shots of the Earth taken from above, while Virts posted some amazing shots of India and the Gange. But this one definitely takes the crown.
“Flying away from one of the most incredible auroras I’ve seen,” said Virts, “just west of Australia.” In addition to capturing the photo you’re about to see full size, Virts also captured a Vine, which you can see below.
Unfortunately though, it seems like the best of it wasn’t actually caught on camera.
“I wish I’d been two minutes quicker with the camera. We were right above this and surrounded by green! #spa… https://t.co/vmRapt3f9B,” he tweeted afterwards.
The aurora borealis is caused by cosmic rays, solar wind and magnetospheric plasma interacting with the upper atmosphere. Basically, charged electrons and protons enter the atmosphere from above, they cause ionization, and excite atmospheric constituents, making them release light. While on Earth the aurora borealis can be seen mostly in high latitudes, seeing it from out space is a very different experience.
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!