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Bursts of light detected in Earth's atmosphere

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It could be space junk rotating and catching the sun. Might just be small enough that they didn't notice it. I'm sure the solar panels on a Satelite must be pretty reflective. Though I'm sure it has been ruled out sciene did once wonder about radio signals that tured out to be the canteen microwave.

Edited by mesuma

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The article makes it sound as if the satellite had an altitude of 'dozens of kilometers'. This seemed next to impossible, so I checked. The perigee of the orbit is 478 kilometers. I assume they meant to say that the phenomenon observed was at an estimated height of dozens of kilometers. The vagueness of the figure seems to support this interpretation. 

I assume that Russian scientists are aware of the phenomenon of light glinting off ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, and have ruled this out. If the phenomenon is occurring at heights of dozens of kilometers,  light reflections from other orbiting satellites can be excluded. They seem to have ruled out all other known possibilities, such as meteors burning up in the atmosphere, or satellite debris doing likewise.

The fact that these flashes were detected when the observed portion of the atmosphere was clear seems to exclude lightning, and related phenomena such as high atmosphere electrical effects called 'sprites'.  The Lomonosov satellite malfunctioned in June 2018, and is apparently no longer providing data.  The delay in reporting this discovery seems to indicate that the information was carefully examined  before reporting this as a true 'unknown'.  

Edited by bison
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