Journal article Open Access
Marshak, Alexander; Várnai, Tamás; Kostinski, Alexander
The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft resides at the first Lagrangian point about one million miles from Earth. A polychromatic imaging camera onboard delivers nearly hourly observations of the entire sunlit face of the Earth. Many images contain unexpected bright flashes of light over both ocean and land. We construct a yearlong time series of flash latitudes, scattering angles, and oxygen absorption to demonstrate conclusively that the flashes over land are specular reflections off tiny ice platelets floating in the air nearly horizontally. Such deep space detection of tropospheric ice can be used to constrain the likelihood of oriented crystals and their contribution to Earth albedo. These glint observations also support proposals for detecting starlight glints off faint companions in our search for habitable exoplanets.