Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Earthshine reflects Earth’s oceans and continents from the dark side of the Moon

09.04.2009
Researchers from the University of Melbourne and Princeton University have shown for the first time that the difference in reflection of light from the Earth’s land masses and oceans can be seen on the dark side of the moon, a phenomenon known as earthshine.

The paper is published in this week’s edition of the international journal Astrobiology.

Sally Langford from the University of Melbourne’s School of Physics who conducted the study as part of her PhD, says that the brightness of the reflected earthshine varied as the Earth rotated, revealing the difference between the intense mirror-like reflections of the ocean compared to the dimmer land.

“In the future, astronomers hope to find planets like the Earth around other stars. However these planets will be too small to allow an image to be made of their surface,” she said.

“We can use earthshine, together with our knowledge of the Earth's surface to help interpret the physical make up of new planets.”

This is the first study in the world to use the reflection of the Earth to measure the effect of continents and oceans on the apparent brightness of a planet. Other studies have used a colour spectrum and infrared sensors to identify vegetation, or for climate monitoring.

The three year study involved taking images of the Moon to measure the earth’s brightness as it rotated, allowing Ms Langford to detect the difference in signal from land and water.

Observations of the Moon were made from Mount Macedon in Victoria, for around three days each month when the Moon was rising or setting. The study was conducted so that in the evening, when the Moon was a waxing crescent, the reflected earthshine originated from Indian Ocean and Africa’s east coast. In the morning, when the Moon was a waning crescent – it originated only from the Pacific Ocean.

“When we observe earthshine from the Moon in the early evening we see the bright reflection from the Indian Ocean, then as the Earth rotates the continent of Africa blocks this reflection, and the Moon becomes darker,” Ms Langford said.

“If we find Earth sized planets and watch their brightness as they rotate, we will be able to assess properties like the existence of land and oceans.”

More information about this article:

Ms Sally Langford
School of Physics
University of Melbourne
Ph (03) 8344 5442
Nerissa Hannink
Media Promotions Officer
nhannink@unimelb.edu.au
Tel: +61 3 8344 8151

Nerissa Hannink | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unimelb.edu.au

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>