Epsilon-3 causes noctilucent clouds to form
NHK -- Jan 19
Shining night clouds were observed in skies over wide areas of western Japan after a rocket lifted off from southern Japan early on Thursday.

The Epsilon-3 rocket was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima shortly after 6 AM and successfully put an Earth observation satellite into orbit around one hour later.

After the liftoff, silver and reddish clouds were observed in wide areas including the Kyushu and Shikoku regions.

Such clouds, known as "noctilucent clouds," shine in sunlight immediately before and after sunrise or sunset. They are formed from ice crystals at altitudes of around 80 kilometers in a layer of the Earth's atmosphere, called the mesosphere. Normal clouds form up to around a dozen kilometers above the Earth's surface.

Researcher Kentaro Araki at the Meteorological Research Institute says noctilucent clouds are extremely rare phenomena in a natural setting and were observed in 2015 in Japan for the first time. He says the clouds observed this time are thought to have been formed from a large volume of gas and dust released from the Epsilon rocket.

「まるでオーロラみたい」。九州各地で不思議な雲が目撃され、話題になっています。
News sources: NHK, ANNnewsCH
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