High-flying clouds that shine in the darkness above the polar caps are known as polar mesospheric clouds, or PMCs. They are essentially swarms of ice crystals high in the atmosphere that catch sunlight in an unusual way.
Research into these glowing clouds could yield important insights into the conditions of our atmosphere, a key component to maintaining life on Earth, as space traffic continues to gather pace.
The members of the Super Soaker mission set out to create their own PMC at the worst possible time: January in the Arctic. This time of year is typically not conducive to PMC formation, meaning there wouldn’t be any interference from naturally occuring glowing clouds.