Space views of earth just got a whole lot better. US space agency NASA is filming the earth in 4K ultra-high definition and in its first such video has captured auroras in both hemispheres in one breathtaking five-minute time-lapse.
Auroras are great big curtains of bright lights seen at high latitudes – Aurora Borealis in the Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Canada and Alaska; Aurora Australis in Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and Antarctica. Named for Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn, the lights feature prominently in Norse and Inuit mythology.
Auroras are created when sun storms throw out solar charged particles that travel to earth and interact with the earth magnetic field. The solar particles excite atoms in the earth's atmosphere, which then emit light to come back to their neutral and natural states. The auroras can be different colours depending on the combination of atmospheric gases present. They are red when there is more oxygen and blue when there is more nitrogen.
The ethereal auroras are breathtaking enough when seen from the ground. The view that NASA has now brought us from the International Space Station hovering 250 miles above the earth is out-of-this-world.
NASA's video has been recorded in 4K ultra-high definition, which is the most advanced broadcast resolution at about six million pixels more than normal full high definition videos. As NASA reminds you on its YouTube page, remember to change your video player setting to 2160p to get the full 4K effect, which can also be seen in this second video of earth landscapes from space.