What is that? Mystery flashes of light have been spotted for decades coming from Earth. The flashes are so large they are visible from Space.
However, we must warn you, it ain’t aliens.
NASA has detected hundreds of mysterious flashes coming from Earth leaving experts confused. The mystery flashes were even spotted by Carl Sagan a couple of decades ago.
In the course of only a year, the DSCOVR climate satellite spotted hundreds of strange phenomena coming from our planet: Mystery flashes of light that has experts baffled. The strange „flashes“ can be traced back to the 1990s when celebrated astronomer Carl Sagan noticed similar “flashes” in images taken by the Galileo space probe.
“We found quite a few very bright flashes over land as well,” says Alexander Marshak from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.
“When I first saw it I thought maybe there was some water there, or a lake the sun reflects off of. But the glint is pretty big, so it wasn’t that.”
NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) aboard the NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spotted 866 bursts of light over land between the observatory’s launch in 2015 and August 2016, reports the daily Mail.
While it was initially thought that these flashes only appeared over Earth’s oceans, simplifying their origin and attributing them to reflections on water, the new images provided by DSCOVR show that they also manifest inland and not on the surface, providing more questions than answers.
To get to the bottom of the mystery, experts launched a new investigation and found that these enigmatic light sources are most likely caused by small, horizontal ice crystals that gloat high above in the sky.
“Large expanses of blue ocean and apparent coastlines are present, and close examination of the images shows a region of [mirror-like] reflection in the ocean but not on land,”
Flashes of light reflected off oceans–like those referenced by Sagan–could have a simple explanation, Marshak said: Sunlight hits a smooth part of an ocean or lake, and reflects directly back to the sensor, like taking a flash-picture in a mirror.
To unravel the mystery, Tamas Varnai of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Alexander Kostinski of Michigan Technological University, conducted a series of experiments. Experts cataloged all of the prospective sunlight glints located over land from the EPIC camera. The enigmatic flashes appear in three different colors since the camera takes red, green and blue images several images apart, notes NASA in an article.
Scientists discovered 866 bursts between DSCOVR’s launch in June 2015 and August 2016.
Scientists reasoned that if all 866 flashes appeared due to the reflection of sunlight, they would be limited to specific areas on the globe—areas where the angle between the sun and Earth is the same as the angle between the spacecraft taken the images and the planet, which allows the spacecraft to pick up the reflected light.
Furthermore, when scientists plotted the locations of the glints where the angles matched—given our planets tilt and the spacecraft’s location, the two matched.
As noted by sciencealert, the research has yet to be peer-reviewed, so certain aspects of the discovery could change once it’s been independently verified.