Unexplained ‘rosette’ cloud formation snapped from space by NASA
8 Feb, 2020 10:35 / Updated 22 minutes ago
The photo was released this week after being snapped on 29 January. © NASA
Peering down on Earth from thousands of kilometers above can reveal patterns that could never be noticed from on terra firma. The latest spectacular examples of this are mysterious ‘rosette’ cloud formations snapped by NASA.
The clouds, seen in freshly released photos captured off the western coast of Australia by the space agency’s Aqua satellite, look like a snowy flower arrangement.
The rosettes are rare actinoform clouds, which are impossible to see from the ground because they stretch over incredibly long distances, sometimes reaching 300 kilometers (180 miles).
The clouds can take different forms, but they have a consistent general structure. They were first recorded by a NASA satellite in 1962 but, despite being aware of them for decades, researchers have yet to unravel why the mysterious clouds form.
Past research had indicated a link to aerosols, tiny particles which can be directly emitted into the atmosphere or formed in the atmosphere by condensation. However, Michael Garay, a cloud researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said it’s hard to see how aerosols could be responsible for the latest formation, given it was snapped so far from land.
So, for now, it remains a beautiful mystery.