NASA has lots of research equipment floating around in space, and from time to time it chronicles some rather tough to explain occurrences.
Not long ago the agency’s EPIC–a camera onboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory detected one such phenomenon–incredibly bright flashes apparently coming from the Earth’s solid surfaces.
According to the research of past similar sightings, extensive spreads of blue sea and clear coastlines are available, and close examination of the pictures show a region of mirror-like reflection in the ocean but not on land.
Nonetheless, when the scientists took another look at the older pictures, they saw something apparently missed bright flashes of light over land also, and those flashes showed up in the EPIC pictures too.
Further investigation revealed that 866 of those light bursts had occurred between mid-2015 and mid-2016.
A NASA press release notes that the researchers contemplated that if these 866 flashes were brought on by reflected daylight, they would be restricted to specific spots on the globe–spots where the edge between the sun and Earth is the same as the point between the rocket and Earth, taking into account the shuttle to get the reflected light.
When they plotted the areas of the gleams with where those points would coordinate, given Earth’s tilt and the rocket’s area, the two coordinated.
According to the study’s lead researcher calculations ultimately confirm that the source of the flashes is not on the ground–it’s ice and most likely solar reflection off of horizontally oriented particles.
A further investigation into these horizontal ice particles are and whether they’re common enough to have a measurable impact on how much sunlight passes through the atmosphere is underway.