NASA camera captures bright flashes above Earth's surface

NASA camera captures bright flashes above Earth's surface
Posted at 10:33 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 03:01:03-04

(RNN) - A NASA camera has captured hundreds of flashes of light coming from above the Earth’s surface that researchers say are caused by sunlight reflecting off tiny ice particles.

The NASA camera is a million miles out on board the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) that was launched in 2015. The instrument takes images almost hourly of Earth from a location between Earth and the sun, NASA said on Monday.

The hundreds of images captured during the past year are the result of light reflecting off ice particles floating in the air almost horizontally, researchers determined. 

The flashes were from a high altitude, 3 to 5 miles above the Earth’s surface. NASA researcher Alexander Marshak and his team are now trying to determine how common the ice particles are, and their impact on sunlight hitting the Earth. That impact could affect how much heat is reaching and leaving Earth, NASA said.

The DSCOVR mission is a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force. 

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