More than a pretty picture

Snapped by the crew onboard the International Space Station, this image shows Spain and Portugal at night.

The city lights, which are often brighter than the stars, reveal where the major towns are, with Madrid being the bright spot just about the centre of the image.

While the lights might look stunning, researchers are hoping to use the images to combat the overlooked issue of light pollution, and perhaps dim the lights.

Astronauts often snap pictures of the Earth out of the ISS window, but many of them go unused.

The Lost at Night project aims to change that. By combining forces with citizen scientists, researchers are hoping to match the images with locations.

“While computer algorithms have trouble distinguishing between stars, the Moon and cities, people are more reliable when it comes to recognising patterns and analysing complex images,” says Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, a lead investigator of the project.

Researchers can then use that information to study light pollution and how it affects us and other organisms.

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