A bizarre Matrix-like curtain of green laser beams showered the sky above Hawaii on January 28. The lasers seemed to trace a path from horizon to horizon. The video was captured by a telescope atop Hawaii’s tallest peak.
The laser beams were initially thought to have come from a radar device on NASA’s ICESat-2 satellite. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), which co-owns the camera capturing the footage, made this announcement on Twitter. However, NAOJ later updated their information after a simulation of satellite trajectories was conducted by NASA scientist Dr. Alvaro Ivanoff and colleagues. The simulation found that the most likely source of the light was the ACDL instrument on the Chinese Daqi-1/AEMS satellite.
China’s Daqi-1 satellite
The Chinese Daqi-1 satellite was launched in April 2022 and is similar to ICESat-2 in that it is an atmospheric environment monitoring satellite. It contains five instruments, including the ACDL (Aerosol and Carbon Dioxide Detection Lidar). This Lidar system uses laser imaging, detection, and ranging to monitor global carbon levels, atmospheric pollution, and other aspects of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The ACDL can detect various molecules in the atmosphere by emitting dual-wavelength lasers at specific wavelengths. The time it takes for these laser beams to bounce back provides information on the composition of the atmosphere and the ground below. For example, the ACDL can determine the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere by emitting two alternating lasers around the 1572 nanometer wavelength range.
China plans to produce a series of Daqi satellites to monitor atmospheric pollution, provide remote sensing data support for environment authorities, and support scientific research into global climate change. The first in the series, Daqi-1, will be networked with other satellites, including Daqi-2, to monitor greenhouse gases and aid China in reducing its carbon emissions. Although it’s still early days for Daqi-1, it remains to be seen whether these green atmospheric detecting lasers may become more widespread as China continues to achieve its goals.
Check out the video below.
In-Article Image CreditsGreen laser beams trace path over skies of Hawaii via National Observatory of Japan with usage type - Editorial use (Fair Use). January 28, 2023
Featured Image CreditGreen laser beams trace path over skies of Hawaii via National Observatory of Japan with usage type - Editorial use (Fair Use). January 28, 2023