How Bad Is Light Pollution? Ask An Astronaut

How bad is light pollution? Ask an astronaut

13.10.2019

How bad is light pollution? Ask an astronaut

A new 'Lost at Night' platform needs you to identify the locations of astronaut’s photographs.

Citizen scientists are being asked use their smartphones to look at images of Earth at night taken by astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) to see just how bad light pollution is.

, which studies the effects of artificial light pollution, is inviting members of the public to look at high resolution, colour photographs taken by astronauts that show cities lit up at night and pinpoint their location.

Astronauts often talk about the Cupola (Italian for dome), an observatory module of the ISS that has seven windows and allows photography of Earth, and over the years, a very many photographs have been taken.

“These images from the ISS are uniquely able to demonstrate the true extent and impact of light pollution, as they are the only current large survey images taken of the Earth that are full colour, something that has not been available before and allows us to identify lighting types,” says Dr. Alejandro Sanchez de Miguel, postdoctoral researcher on the project and who is based in the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus.

While computer algorithms have trouble distinguishing between stars, the Moon and cities, people have no trouble. “We don’t know which direction the astronauts pointed the camera from the Station. We only know the time it was taken and the area of Earth they were flying over,” says Sánchez de Miguel.

Over 30,000 images have already been processed, but the researchers need more help to complete their work.

insects are attracted to light so are more easily preyed on

Read more: Forbes

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