While most people were looking UP at yesterday’s solar eclipse, NASA’s Terra satellite was looking DOWN at the Earth instead.
During the morning of March 20, 2015, a total solar eclipse was visible from parts of Europe, and a partial solar eclipse from northern Africa and northern Asia. NASA’s Terra satellite passed over the Arctic Ocean on March 20 at 10:45 UTC (6:45 a.m. EDT) and captured the eclipse’s shadow over the clouds in the Arctic Ocean.
In this image, you can also see a great example of what are called “cloud streets,” technically referred to as “horizontal convective rolls or horizontal roll vortices.”
Cloud streets are long rows of cumulus clouds that are oriented parallel to the direction of the wind.
They’re formed by convection rolls of rising warm air and sinking cool air. Rising warm air cools gradually as it ascends into the atmosphere. When moisture in the warm air mass cools and condenses, it forms clouds. Meanwhile, sinking cool air on either side of the cloud formation zone creates a cloud-free area. When several of these alternating rising and sinking air masses align with the wind, cloud streets develop.
NASA launched the Earth Observing System’s flagship satellite “Terra,” named for Earth, on December 18, 1999. Terra has been collecting data about Earth’s changing climate. Terra carries five state-of-the-art sensors that have been studying the interactions among the Earth’s atmosphere, lands, oceans, and radiant energy. Each sensor has unique design features that will enable scientists to meet a wide range of science objectives.
Image Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team