EarthWatch: Airglow over the Indian Ocean

Video Player

Video Versions

Diffuse bands of orange and green light are emitted by atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere. 

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory:
Astronaut photograph provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center

Image of the Day story by Adam Voiland: 

Adaptation to ViewSpace by Sharon Toolan, Margaret W. Carruthers, and Dani Player. 

Music from Music for Nonprofits

Text, Earth Watch, Exploring the Blue Planet by Satellite.
A satellite image of Earth shows patches of white against a sea of blue.
Airglow over the Indian Ocean. An astronaut sailing over the Indian Ocean aboard the International Space Station captured the view of a starry sky above diffuse bands of orange and green.
Earth Observatory, Earth Observatory dot NASA dot gov. Expedition 63 Crew, International Space Station. July 31, 2020.
A satellite view of Earth shows Earth against a black sky speckled with light dots. A transparent orange glow surrounds the outside of earth. The outermost layer is a greenish color. Orange solar arrays from the Space Station can be seen on the right side of the image.
Text, this colorful light is known as airglow. Airglow occurs when atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere absorb ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, and then emit energy back out in the form of visible light.
Sodium (N A) gives off a yellow-orange light, especially at altitudes between 85 and 90 kilometers.
Hydroxyl radicals (O H) give off red light at about the same altitude.
Slightly higher up, at altitudes of 95-100 kilometers, atomic oxygen (O) glows green.
To learn more, go to: earthobservatory dot nasa dot gov.