Earth gets ultimate mirror selfie thanks to CU researchers

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Artist’s depiction of the Hubble Space Telescope passing in front of the moon during a total lunar eclipse. (Credit: M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble, NASA and ESA)

BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, led by astrophysicist Allison Youngblood, used the Hubble Space Telescope to view Earth by pointing it at the moon.

In the new study released on Thursday, researchers recorded sunlight that passed through Earth’s atmosphere as it reflected off the moon’s surface, like a giant mirror.

“It’s like what an astronaut might see standing on the surface of the moon,” said Youngblood, a research scientist at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).

Researchers studied the light reflecting from a specific region of the moon as part of the new study.(Credits: M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble, NASA, and ESA; CC photo via Flickr)

Researchers recorded qualities of sunlight through the Earth’s atmosphere as the light bounced off the surface of the moon during a total lunar eclipse.

Timelapse of the moon during a total lunar eclipse in January 2019. (Credits: M. Kornmesser/ESA/Hubble, NASA, and ESA; CC photo via Flickr)

The technique is new in planetary photography, researchers will use the new tool to search for ozone in the atmosphere of distant planets, in indicator of the presence of life.

“Ozone is what we call a biosignature,” said Youngblood. “It’s a byproduct of molecular oxygen, which can be a byproduct of life.”

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