NASA Sees Southern Lights From Space (PHOTOS)

on July 19 2011 1:09 PM

Talk about a hell of a view.

NASA satellites on the current Atlantis space shuttle mission were able to capture the geomagnetic phenomenon known as Aurora Australis while it was in progress. The phenomenon, which is called Aurora Borealis in the North, is a natural light display caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere.

The view came as the spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station for the final time. The spacecraft is headed home after completing its final eight days at the I.S.S. Once it returns home, NASA will retire the space shuttle program for the final time.

Here are a few photos the crew of Atlantis was able to snap.

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Southern Lights from space

Space shuttle Atlantis, now docked to the ISS for the last resupply mission of NASA's 30-year shuttle program, was witness to beautiful green curtains of aurora over the Southern hemisphere. NASA

Southern Lights from space

The same display was seen from Earth's surface from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. The picture also shows the SPUD microwave telescope on the left. NASA

Southern Lights from space

This panoramic shot of the aurora australis shows space shuttle Atlantis, the boom sensor system attached to the shuttle's robotic arm, and a portion of the ISS solar panels. NASA

Southern Lights from space

This image is of Atlantis and its Orbital Boom Sensor System robot arm extension backdropped against Earth's horizon and a greenish phenomenon associated with Aurora Australis. NASA