Proceedings PaperSpacecraft Glow
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Spacecraft glow may be defined as optical emissions originating immediately above those surfaces of an orbiting spacecraft that face into the ram direction. The glow is observed to extend from the spacecraft surface out about 20 cm and, for the Space Shuttle at its lower orbital altitudes, is bright enough to be seen by the unaided eye. The glow is brightest in the yellow and red end of the spectrum. Measurements show that the brightness rises rapidly toward the red end of the spectrum and is last seen still rising toward the infra-red (IR). Although there are no direct measurements, both extrapolation of available data as well as theoretical arguments indicate the glow is brightest in the infra-red.