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  Image: Geographic Location Direction Photo #: STS097-354-36 Date: Dec. 2000
Geographic Region: AURORA

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  Astronauts aboard the STS-97 Space Shuttle mission in December observed and photographed the northern lights after undocking from the International Space Station. This image was taken on December 11, 2000. At the time, the Shuttle was just east of Newfoundland at 49.7N 51.6 W, at an altitude of 362 km. The image view is to the north (Polaris, the North Star, is visible), and shows two separate atmospheric optical phenomena. The faint, thin greenish band stretching across and above the horizon is airglow; radiation emitted by the atmosphere from a layer about 30 km thick and about 100 km altitude. The predominant emission in airglow is the green 5577 Angstrom wavelength emission from oxygen atoms. Airglow is always and everywhere present in the atmosphere; it results from the recombination of molecules that have been broken apart by solar radiation during the day. But the phenomenon is so faint that it can only be seen at night by looking "edge on" at the emission layer, such as the view astronauts have in orbit.

The other phenomenon in the photo (the green blob to the left of center) is the aurora. Green aurora occur from about 100 km to 250 km altitude only in the auroral zones at polar latitudes. They are also caused by the emission of 5577 Angstrom wavelength light from oxygen atoms that have been raised to a higher energy level (excited) by collisions with energetic electrons pouring down from the Earth's magnetosphere. The light is emitted when the atoms return to their original unexcited state.
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Images: All Available Images Low-Resolution 36k
Mission: STS097  
Roll - Frame: 354 - 36
Geographical Name: AURORA  
Center Lat x Lon: N x E
Film Exposure:   N=Normal exposure, U=Under exposed, O=Over exposed, F=out of Focus
Percentage of Cloud Cover-CLDP:
Camera: NK
Camera Tilt: HO   LO=Low Oblique, HO=High Oblique, NV=Near Vertical
Camera Focal Length:  
Nadir to Photo Center Direction:   The direction from the nadir to the center point, N=North, S=South, E=East, W=West
Stereo?:   Y=Yes there is an adjacent picture of the same area, N=No there isn't
Orbit Number: 156  
Date: 20001211   YYYYMMDD
Time: 000638   GMT HHMMSS
Nadir Lat: 49.9N  
Latitude of suborbital point of spacecraft
Nadir Lon: 50.6W  
Longitude of suborbital point of spacecraft
Sun Azimuth: 288   Clockwise angle in degrees from north to the sun measured at the nadir point
Space Craft Altitude: 190   nautical miles
Sun Elevation: -45   Angle in degrees between the horizon and the sun, measured at the nadir point
Land Views:  
Water Views:  
Atmosphere Views: AURORA  
Man Made Views:  
City Views:  
Photo is not associated with any sequences

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