Reid Wiseman has proven to be our eyes and ears for what it's like to live in space, he's shown us incredible videos, pictures ranging from the Northern Lights to what it's like to support the World Cup from the ISS.
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His latest image is as educational as it is stunning to look at. The picture is a three second shutter exposure shot of the Earth's atmosphere and captures beautifully all the different layers that allow us to live and breath.
— Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) August 18, 2014
In case you're wondering what all of those layers does, then reddit user smskiwi has come up with an explanation:
"The orange and green arcs are layers of glowing gas are called airglow. Each layer glows at a specific wavelength or band of wavelengths. The broad orange layer at the top is due to atomic oxygen from ~250 km altitude. The narrow green layer is also atomic oxygen and that originates from near 96 km altitude. Just below that is another orange layer due to atomic sodium from meteors burning up in the upper atmosphere at ~90 km altitude. Maybe a contribution in that layer by hydroxyl from 87km also."
The picture is significant for two reasons, not only does it show our atmosphere in a way that few of us have seen it also proves that a famous myth about space is in fact wrong.
There are stars.
Normally when an astronaut takes a picture in space the light reflecting from the Earth or the Moon is so bright that it simply drowns out all the other stars.
It was such a problem for NASA that many had used the lack of stars as evidence that the Moon Landings were fake. Well leave the lens open long enough and you'll see everything, including the huge blanket of stars.