Scientists Use ISS Pictures to Map Light Pollution


Photo Credit: NASA/ESA

Researchers belonging to the Cities at Night project have obtained nighttime images of cities from the International Space Station (ISS) in order to gauge the light pollution globally.

The new study that was released on Tuesday at IAU XXIX General Assembly in Hawaii, established that the diffuse glow that is witnessed from space is nothing, but dispersed light from streetlights and buildings. Additionally, this light is also accountable for the illumination of the night skies in the cities and its outskirts, significantly cutting the noticeability of faint stars and the Milky Way.

Apart from members of the public, the Cities at Night project include researchers from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain and Cegep de Sherbrooke, Canada.

Earlier this study, gauging light pollution was done “in situ” (on site) and donated only one measurement to the light pollution map. Nonetheless, this new procedure that links measurements of light pollution based on space to measurements of night sky, which is why it was possible for the researchers to map light pollution steadfastly across drawn-out regions.

Prior to this study, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program inspected a diffuse light existing around cities as well other than the known lights from streets and factories. However, its nature stayed unidentified as the satellite’s low resolution cameras couldn’t separate it from other instrumental aspects.

The new study saw astronauts using high-resolution cameras to capture the images, which helped them the researchers to find the connection between diffused light noticed and light pollution from simulated lights.

Furthermore, by utilizing the astronaut images provided by ISS and the facts from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Satellite and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, the findings indicated that European nations and metropolises with a greater public duty have more consumption of energy emitted by streetlights per dweller. The entire expense of the energy intake for streetlights is 6300 million Euros per annum in the European Union.

Alejandro Sanchez de Miquel who is the lead scientist said that until the arrival of new satellites, “astronaut photography” was their “only colour and high-resolution window on the Earth.”

The Cities at Night project now aims to assemble funding in an attempt to keep the project functional, and this comes after they achieved initial support of several institutions and thousands of volunteers.

In May, 2015 our earlier report showed NASA astronaut Terry Virts taking some extraordinary images of many Indian cities from space.

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