Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2003 April 8
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Aurora From Space
Credit: Don Pettit, ISS Expedition 6, NASA

Explanation: What do auroras look like from space? From the ground, auroras dance high above clouds, frequently causing spectacular displays. The International Space Station (ISS) orbits just at the same height as many auroras, though. Therefore, sometimes it flies over them, but also sometimes it flies right through. The auroral electron and proton streams are too thin to be a danger to the ISS, just as clouds pose little danger to airplanes. ISS Science Officer Don Pettit captured a green aurora, pictured above in a digitally sharpened image. From orbit, Dr. Pettit reports, changing auroras can appear to crawl around like giant green amoebas. Far below, on planet Earth, the Manicouagan Impact Crater can be seen in northern Canada.

Have you seen today's: Space Station Science Picture of the Day?
Tomorrow's picture: Egg Shells

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