NASA Satellite Spots A Strange Dark Streak Across The Arabian Sea

Posted: May 7 2017, 4:29am CDT | by , Updated: May 7 2017, 4:35am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

NASA Satellite Spots a Strange Dark Streak Across the Arabian Sea
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

The phenomenon is caused by normal weather conditions in the area

A strange dark figure was spotted in the latest satellite image taken from high above the Arabian Sea. While the dark streak appears to be something mysterious intruding into the area, it has a completely natural explanation: normal weather conditions in the sea.

The image was taken on April 11 using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite and does not involve false colors. The image shows a detailed view of the phenomenon called ‘sunlight.’

Wind-ruffed water and smooth water reflect sunlight differently and create complex ‘sunlight’ patterns like this when viewed from above. If we look down on Earth from a spacecraft, the smooth water reflects sunlight like a mirror and appears more visible than the surrounding area. But once the water gets chaotic due to waves and winds, it reflects light upward scattered, in many directions, meaning less light reaches back toward the satellite.

In this case, the sun, satellite and sea are aligned and showing up long, linear streaks right down to the middle of the sea, creating a boundary setting apart bright water from the surrounding region.

“What’s interesting is that the sunlight (bright area) is interrupted. Dark areas indicate surface waters that have been roughened by wind, causing sunlight to reflect in many directions. That means less light is reflected directly back toward the satellite. In this way, sunlight can be used to discern phenomena like wind patterns that are not directly visible in natural color imagery.” NASA’s Earth Observatory explained.

Similar phenomenon was observed from other vantage points as well. For instance, astronauts aboard International Space Station captured the images of sunlight on Lake Titicaca – the largest lake in South America. The enhanced water reflections were also visible in the glitter path of beach in California.

Launched in December 1999, Terra satellite is a joint effort of United States, Japan and Canada. The satellite constantly monitors the Earth and provides insight into how Earth system is working and how it is changing over time.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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