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On January 28th, a series of green streaks were spotted in the night sky over Hawaii. The Subaru Telescope located on Mauna Kea captured the intriguing event with its Subaru-Asahi Star Camera and live-streamed it. Despite the initial speculation that the lights might have been caused by unidentified flying objects, they actually have a logical explanation tied to satellites.
The team behind the Subaru Telescope released a video showcasing the lights, with several different perspectives included, such as a contrast-enhanced version that makes the lights stand out against the cloudy background. On January 30th, they tweeted that the lights were believed to be from the remote-sensing altimeter satellite ICESat-2/43613.
Although this was an educated guess, it was later discovered to be from a different satellite.
The team at the Subaru Telescope updated their video on Monday to reveal that the ICESat-2 team has conducted simulations of satellite trajectories and determined the Chinese Daqi-1/AEMS satellite as the probable origin of the green laser lights. The Subaru Telescope team expressed their gratitude for the ICESat-2 team’s efforts in identifying the source of the lights and offered apologies for any confusion that may have been caused.
The China National Space Administration and the Chinese embassy in the US have yet to respond to news comments.
A recent update from Dr. Martino Anthony J., a NASA scientist working on the ICESat-2 ATLAS project, stated that the green lights were not generated by their instrument but by another source. Dr. Alvaro Ivanoff and his colleagues conducted a simulation of the trajectories of satellites equipped with similar instruments and determined the ACDL instrument aboard the Chinese Daqi-1/AEMS satellite as the most likely cause of the lights. The Subaru Telescope team expressed their appreciation for the efforts of Dr. Ivanoff and his team in identifying the source of the lights. They also apologized for any confusion caused by the event and its potential impact on the ICESat-2 team.
The Subaru Telescope is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, which has also captured some other intriguing sights in the sky, including a “whirlpool” created by a SpaceX rocket. While both the whirlpool and the green streaks may appear to be strange and unworldly, they are actually the result of human ingenuity and technology, with no extraterrestrial involvement.
This video of the green laser lights over Hawaii and the possibility that a Chinese satellite. It was the cause of the lights has become a viral topic on social media. As stated in a press release from the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, Daqi-1 is capable of monitoring fine particle pollution such as PM2.5, as well as pollutant gases like nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and carbon dioxide concentration. China plans to launch additional Daqi satellites for environmental observation. This has added to the already heightened tensions between the US and China, following the US shooting down an alleged Chinese spy balloon that China claims was for civilian research purposes. The Daqi-1 satellite, launched in 2021, serves a similar purpose as ICESat-2, with the goal of monitoring atmospheric pollution using lasers.