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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 11, 2006 9:51:21 GMT -6
Investigating High-latitude Noctilucent Clouds
AIM: Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere -
The AIM satellite mission will explore Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs), also called noctilucent clouds, to find out why they form and why they are changing. Results from this mission will provide the basis for study of long-term variability in the mesospheric climate. The AIM satellite has three instruments aboard: SOFIE, CDE, and CIPS
Last night when the sun was setting in Vallentuna, Sweden, the horizon lit up with fine, electric-blue ripples of light. "It was a fantastic display," says P-M Heden who took this picture.
These are noctilucent clouds, floating 80 km above Earth at the edge of space. What seeds them? Why were they never seen before the 19th century? Are they spreading? NASA is launching a satellite named AIM to investigate.
Perhaps it's a artifact of man's imposition on Earth's atmosphere, collecting on the fringes and glowing.