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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Polar Mesospheric Clouds on the Horizon

June 29, 2012

This video was taken by the crew of Expedition 31 on board the International Space Station. The sequence of shots was taken June 5, 2012 from 18:26:38 to 18:31:04 GMT, on a pass from western Iraq to western Uzbekistan. This video captures an atmospheric phenomenon called “Polar Mesospheric Clouds”

Polar mesospheric clouds (also known as noctilucent, or “night-shining” clouds) are transient, upper atmospheric phenomena that are usually observed in the summer months at high latitudes (greater than 50 degrees) of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. They appear bright and cloudlike while in deep twilight. They are illuminated by sunlight when the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the darkness of Earth’s shadow.  Credit: NASA